People Unclear

This is number 41 of a long series

One of the ideas behind creating and maintaining the Skeptical Analysis blog was to provide a hint of clarity in a sometimes confusing world. A topic I treat on a weekly basis is the matter of gun violence in the United States, but despite all my efforts, there remain a number of people unclear. Some of them are elected officials in our highest offices. Take Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, for example:

Texas lieutenant governor blames abortions and violent video games for school shootings, but not guns

Updated 10:24 PM ET, Sun May 20, 2018

(CNN)Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday said school shootings aren’t happening because of an issue with guns. Rather, he blamed the tragedies on a litany of other reasons, including abortions and violent video games.

Patrick praised Gov. Greg Abbott’s plans for a roundtable discussion on how to protect students from gun violence after the nation’s latest school shooting in Santa Fe, where 10 people were killed. “Everything ought to be on the table,” Patrick said.

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I believe the LG has a point there. Suppose there were not a proliferation of guns about where just about anybody with a trigger finger could get his hands on one, and suppose you just had an abortion or else you spent the last five weeks binging on Street Fighter, then the inevitable would come to pass. You would have the insatiable desire to head back to school for the first time in days and gun down a few jerks who cut in front of you at the cafeteria. It would be no problem for you to dive down into your basement workshop and gin up a rapid-fire handgun with a 20-round magazine, and then those jerks back at school would be quickly short-listed.

Yes, this is the kind of thinking that goes on at levels well above my head. But there’s more.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Patrick repeated earlier arguments about eliminating some school entrances: “We need to get down to one or two entrances into our schools.” He added: “You have the necessary exits for fire, of course, but we have to funnel our students into our schools so we can put eyes on them.”

Wait. Wait! Didn’t we recently enact laws that would make Texas one of the safest places in the country? Didn’t we just make it legal for run of the mill pedestrians to openly carry some serious heat? By now it should be safe enough that schools would not need walls. In fact, shouldn’t that be the case in any circumstance. Shouldn’t society by now be so safe that school shootings are a bad memory? Shouldn’t some of our top elected state officials stop over at the Mayo Clinic to have their brains checked for worms?

The truth is crashing down on us. We were promised that a proliferation in deadly weapons would make us all safer, and the fact is that in places where gun ownership has become a right, sanctified by law, we have:

  • A teenager shot in a scuffle perpetrated by a gun-carrying vigilante
  • A man in a car shot by somebody in another car who objected to loud music
  • A man shot in a movie theater in a confrontation involving popcorn
  • Five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper
  • Twenty-six people shot to death at a Texas church
  • Seventeen people shot to death at a Florida school
  • Ten people shot to death at a Texas school

I’m feeling safer already. Not really. I’m being facetious. Texas has Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Dan Patrick, Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator John Cornyn, all supporting the absurd notion that deadly weapons freely distributed will make us safer. What will make us safer is clearing out some of this dead wood.

The Government You Paid For

Number 34 of a Series

I’ve been saying for some time that we get the government we pay for. For some reason, it seems, that the candidate who can spend the most money and put out the spiffiest campaign ads (and the most volume) gets the nod from American voters. We are a grand lot in that respect, an attention span clocked with an egg timer and the inclination to believe the most recent thing said, perhaps also in the loudest voice. Anyhow, we get what we pay for, so let’s see what we got.

This blog gets maybe a B- for originality. I don’t daily pile into my Toyota and beat up the pavement to chase original sources. I read the news online and catch a lot of other stuff streaming on the Internet. In all this, one source I avoided previously was MSNBC and Rachel Maddow in particular. Her program is not strictly news. It’s commentary, tending to be front-loaded, and not always impartial. However, since I committed to going the Full Monty on President Donald Trump I’m finding Maddow’s reports to be a rich source. And that’s what this is all about. I’m summarizing a presentation from last week. I will recap for those who don’t have the inclination to watch the video on YouTube, and I’m going to string the summarization with a hoard of screen shots from the show. This one might be titled Use the available federal machinery, because that’s the prominent take-away.

Maddow first reaches back nearly 50 years when Richard Nixon took office as President of the United States. One of the things the new President did was appoint Randolph Thrower to head up the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Things apparently went swimmingly for Mr. Thrower for nearly two years. Then he requested an audience with President Nixon to alert him that people on the White House staff were instructing him to audit named individuals.

The list of those needing an IRS audit was impressive. It included antiwar leaders, civil rights figures, journalists, members of Congress.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POarWqNJS18Also every Democratic senator up for re-election in 1970. This last bit gives some insight into the internals. The request for dirt on senators up for re-election in  1970 must have come many months prior to Mr. Thrower’s request for a meeting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POarWqNJS18At this point Mr. Thrower exhibited a bit of naiveté not often exhibited in the halls of government. He was certain the President did not know about these machinations, and he was sure the President would take swift action.

Was he ever wrong! Mr. Thrower did not get his audience. Mr. Nixon fired him. Mr. Thrower was not the right man Mr. Nixon wanted for the job after all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POarWqNJS18Needing somebody willing to do his bidding and needing somebody to replace Mr. Thrower, President Nixon next considered John Nolan, who was in charge of IRS tax policy and who would be a logical replacement. Well… no.

The conversation was recorded on audio tape in the Oval Office, and it went much like this:

President Nixon: I want to  be sure he’s a ruthless son of a bitch. That he will do what he’s told, that every income tax return I want to see I see. That he’ll go after our enemies and not go after our friends. It’s as simple as that. If he isn’t, he doesn’t get the job. We’ve got to have somebody like that for a change in this place.

Nixon Aide: Well that is the basis of which I inquired about Nolan. And I am assured that Nolan will not play that game.

The hunt needed to go on.

Anyhow, John Nolan was out, so the President had to look for another patsy. Attorney General John Mitchell recommended Johnnie Walters, who was then working for the Justice Department.

And that was that. On 11 September 1972 John Dean, who was counsel for the President, handed Mr. Walters the famous “enemies list.” The list had hundreds of names of people the President wanted the IRS to investigate.

Included were “staff members and leading contributors to  the flagging presidential campaign of Senator George McGovern.”

There were “about 200 prominent Democrats.”

Mr. Walters “put the list in a sealed envelope and kept it in a safe.” Apparently he never used the list. My thinking is that something like this is a cudgel you want to keep close by while you wait for the opportunity to use it.

He put the list in a sealed envelope and kept it in a safe until the following year, when he turned it over to congressional  investigators.

In 1973, as the investigation into the Watergate burglary and associated malfeasance, kicked into gear, John Dean disavowed his elegance to President Nixon, and he testified before the senate committee on the existence of the list and on the intent. He made available a copy of President Nixon’s plan to use the force of the United States Government to go after his political enemies. A portion of text from that plan is illustrative:

Stated a bit more bluntly.. how can we use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.

It’s been a long time (never) since anybody called me a lawyer, but I can see that such actions are in violation of several laws. These are the kinds of things that can get a president impeached and thrown out of office.

The White House audio recordings now became public knowledge, and excerpts are revealing of the length to which the President was willing to go to skewer political opponents and also those who challenged him:

President Nixon: I want to direct the most trusted person you have in the immigration service that they are to look over all the activities of the Los Angeles Times—all, underlined to see whether they are violating the wetback thing… Otis Chandler—I want him checked with regard to his gardener.

President Nixon: I understand he’s a wetback. We’re going after the Chandlers, every one, individually, collectively, their income tax. They’re starting this week. Every one of those sons of bitches. Is that clear?

A.G. John Mitchell: Yes sir.

President Nixon: Understand? Do it. Give me a report.

A.G. John Mitchell: Very well, sir.

And that kind of misuse of government power is what can get you removed from office and sent to jail. From the articles of impeachment.

Obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry.

Delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation … cover up, conceal and protect those responsible … making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers … withholding  relevant and material evidence … surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses … making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements.

Using the powers of the office of the President of the United States …

endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service … confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed [sic] not authorized by law

He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service … for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

The upshot was that President Nixon was not impeached. He resigned, and the presidency passed to Gerald Ford, who had been appointed Vice President on the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew following revelation of his own criminal activities. President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon and was rewarded by voters in 1976, who elected Jimmy Carter as President. John Dean went to jail. John Ehrlichman went to jail. John Mitchell went to jail

Anyhow, that stuff was 44 years ago. It’s good that we have put those days behind us, and we now stand in a brighter venue, possessed of higher expectations.

Not so fast.

One of the richest people in the world, actually the richest person in the world, is Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon and also owner of The Washington Post. It’s that last part that’s getting attention these days. Historically, Washington Post writing by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein was instrumental in bringing down President Nixon. It was a circumstance that got the Post on President Nixon’s list at the time. From all appearances, The Washington Post has not learned from the past, and this venerable institution is again on a President’s shit list.

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POarWqNJS18You get the idea. The Washington Post is not currently Bezos’s cash cow. That would be Amazon, the largest on-line retailer in the world. What is a 21st century president to do now but go after the sacred cow.

In the past week, the president has turned what were sporadic and often private criticisms into a sustained volley of tweets against the company, often causing stock market fluctuations.

Fueling Mr. Trump’s ire is not so much Amazon, the online giant that is revamping the retail industry, but the company’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, people close to the White House say.

Mr. Trump sees Mr. Bezos’s hand in newspaper coverage he dislikes and is lashing out at Amazon as a proxy, these people said.

The president’s most recent flurry of tweets targeting Amazon has coincided with publication of Washington Post stories he dislikes.

What’s not clear is whether Mr. Trump will  take actions that would harm Amazon’s business interests.

… his new freedom is used to focus ever more closely on his perceived enemies and obsessions. Amazon, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, is currently the main target.

Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company.

“He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I f[uck] with him?”

According to sources, Trump wants the Post Office to increase Amazon’s shipping costs.

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com…

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission…

Brennan and Trump have met at the White House about the matter several times, beginning 2017…

The meetings have never appeared on Trump’s public schedule.

…according to three people familiar with their conversations…

Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms

Megan Brennan, the ghost of Randolph Thrower is trying to channel you. Update your resume. Mr. Trump, you need to check for messages from Richard Nixon’s ghost.

The fun is just getting started, and we are finally getting the government we paid for.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. I’ve heard that before. It means what might be good for one person is not so good for another. This is Another Man’s Poison, It’s from 1951, and it features Bette Davis and Gary Merrill in the lead roles. As usual, I’m getting these screen shots from Amazon Prime Video, where it’s currently streaming. Angel Productions cranked this one out. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s a set-piece drama.

The film rolls, and we see a woman walking. Rather, we see the woman’s feet and legs. She walks and walks, all the way through the title sequence. She comes to a railway station at night somewhere in Yorkshire, England. A steam locomotive is puffing to a stop as the woman enters a public phone booth and places a call. She’s Janet Frobisher (Davis).

She is phoning Larry Stevens (Anthony Steel), who really cannot talk right at this moment, because he is with somebody else, Chris Dale (Barbara Murray). We are later going to find out that Chris is Janet’s secretary, and Larry is Chris’s fiancée and at the same time Janet’s secret lover. Janet asks Larry to come over to her house right away. This is going to get interesting.

As Janet finishes her suspicious phone call, the local veterinarian, Dr. Henderson (Emlyn Williams), intrudes and asks some embarrassing questions. Such as, why did Janet walk nearly a mile from her house to place a phone call.

Henderson gives Janet a lift home in  his war surplus Jeep. Inside, Janet fines she has an unexpected visitor. It’s George Bates (Merrill), until then unknown to Janet, but a recent accomplice with Janet’s husband in a bank heist that went wrong. He insists on seeing her husband. Unfortunately that is not possible at the moment, since Janet just minutes previous murdered her husband by allowing him to drink poison. Hence the title.

Yes, we now get down to the substance of this plot and it proceeds from  there. George’s idea is to dispose of the husband’s body in the local pond and then to assume his identity, since nobody in the neighborhood has ever met the husband. Janet resists, but George can be very persuasive, threatening blackmail.

Over the next few days their lives are swept up in a whirlwind of intrusive characters and also back-biting. Larry and Chris arrive, Chris to stay, since she lives in the house. Henderson contrives all manner of reasons to return to the house, and he expresses opinions about the identity of Janet’s new-found husband.

George lusts for Janet, Larry lusts for Janet, all the while stringing Chris along. Things get acrimonious. Janet has a beloved horse, and George takes the animal out for a ride in the rain against Janet’s wishes. He shoots the horse out of spite, claiming the horse broke his leg. Henderson arrives with the news the horse’s only injury was a pistol bullet in the head. Henderson departs, leaving his surplus Jeep at Janet’s house. The brakes have gone out completely.

Larry and Chris have it out, and Chris departs, moving out of the house. Larry goes after her. Janet has a plan. She convinces George to go after Chris and to take the Jeep. Of course the Jeep crashes, but George is only injured. He is now very hostile.

All seems to be finished for Janet, and she prepares to drink the poison she gave her husband.

Then she has another idea. George is about to depart and to blow the whole matter sky high. Janet proposes they have a farewell drink. We know where this is going. But George is suspicious, and he refuses the drink Janet offers. Instead he pours himself a shot from the fatal flask.

Henderson arrives, informing he knew all along about the subterfuge. When Janet’s husband arrived he gave him a lift to the house. He has always been aware the husband is not George.

Janet is distraught and suffers a collapse. Henderson gives her a drink, from the flask.

And that’s the end of the movie. It’s 90 minutes of fabricated melodrama, and after watching this through I was never able to figure out why Janet walked to the train station to make the phone call. She should have had plenty of privacy at home, since she had just killed her husband. A bunch does not make sense.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Цифровая репродукция находится в интернет-музее Gallerix.ru

The maid asked her boss, the wife for a raise, and the wife was upset. The wife asked, “Now, Helen, why do you think you deserve a pay increase?”

Helen: “There are three reasons. The first is that I iron better than you.”

Wife: “Who said that?”

Helen: “Your husband.”

Wife: “Oh.”

Helen: “The second reason is that I am a better cook than you.”

Wife: “Who said that?”

Helen: “Your husband.”

Wife: “Oh.”

Helen: “The third reason is that I am better in bed than you.”

Wife: “Did my husband say that as well?”

Helen: “No, the gardener did.”

Wife: “So, how much do you want?”

Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

Number 9 in a Series

I’ve been telling people for a long time that Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things, so this should not have come as a surprise. I was watching YouTube this morning, and there was a clip where CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was having an interview with Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York, former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and currently a lawyer for President Trump. At this stage in life I can rightly be termed “jaded,” but even so, something this former prosecuting attorney said shook me.

Watch the video. There is a discussion about whether President Trump can be forced to testify before Robert Mueller’s investigation, and it got down to point of speculating what would happen were he to do so. Then it happens. About 14:05 into the clip the President’s lawyer says, “The president is not going to lie.”

Yes, he said it. The President’s lawyer makes the flat claim that the President is not going to lie. Church bells should have been ringing as the ground shook. First there is the matter that the President’s lawyer would feel the need to make the statement. Second there is the bald-faced claim, itself. The President is not going to lie.

Since when.

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

We should be focused on clean and beautiful air-not expensive and business closing GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax!

An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that ‘s birth certificate is a fraud.

Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault

We just approved $700 billion for our military,” Trump said. “So we’re going to be having the best equipment ever known.  And next year, $716 billion. So I wanted to let you know. And, by the way — I know you don’t care about this — but that also includes raises for our military. First time in 10 years.
The Washington Post has compiled a tally of presidential  whoppers. Here are a few:

He claimed he had attracted 32,000 people at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on the eve of the election when the venue held only 4,200 and local media estimated that perhaps that many were waiting outside, for a total of 8,000.

He once again claimed that under the Iran nuclear agreement, the United States gave the country $150 billion. But this was always Iran’s money. Iran had billions of dollars in assets that were frozen in foreign banks around the globe because of international sanctions over its nuclear program. The Treasury Department estimated that once Iran fulfilled other obligations, it would have about $55 billion left. The Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion.

For the 31st time, he used a made-up number — $7 trillion — for how much the United States supposedly has spent on wars in the Middle East.

He once again claimed that President Xi Jinping of China instantly agreed to a request from Trump to allow the sale of U.S. beef after years of blocking it. But China had already agreed to such sales under a deal brokered by the Obama administration.

He claimed “we have done more than anybody in a year” and “I accomplished more than I promised.” In reality, at the end of his first year, Trump had signed fewer bills than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (though he has since caught up and passed Obama and is tied with George W. Bush). As for promises, our Trump Promise Tracker shows Trump has only kept 23 percent of 60 key promises and broken 27 percent.

The foregoing is a thin shadow of the lies cast by this President. And now Rudy Giuliani proposes that Donald Trump will go before Robert Mueller’s investigation, and he will not lie. Wait for the earthquake.

People Unclear

This is number 40 of a long series

If you’re like me, you wonder where people like this come from:

GOP congressman asks if rocks are causing sea levels to rise

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I found it impossible to omit Representative Brooks’ affiliation with the Republican party. It’s not as though when you decide to run for office as a Republican you have to check the “global warming is a hoax” box. But it helps.

But let’s get serious for a moment. Representative Brooks may have a point there. The truth is that the world’s rivers daily deposit tons of soil, scourged from the continents, into the oceans. That has got to account for some sea level rise. Some Skeptical Analysis is in order. Take the Mississippi River as an example. All the stuff that gets washed down from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains eventually makes its way to the Mississippi Delta. A similar thing is going on with the Nile. This has been going on for millions of years. We should all be under water by now.

Not quite. Look at Florida. The state is bare inches (many inches) above water. It has an interesting geological history:

Sea levels have had a profound effect on both Florida’s geology and ecology. The fossil record indicates a mass migration of plants and animals occurred between North and South America approximately 2 million years ago, when sea levels were much lower and a land bridge connected North America. During the last ice age, Florida was as much as three times the current land area (red line on Figure 1).

Here is Figure 1:

The map shows what is now Florida and the shape of the coast line 5 million years ago (smaller) and during the previous ice age, when a bunch of the planet’s water was stacked up as ice on the continents (much larger). Melting of the continental ice shrunk Florida to its present day size.

And Florida is much the same shape as it was 500 years ago when Europeans began to explore it. All this while the Mississippi, the Nile, the Amazon, the Indus—all  these great rivers—have been dumping silt into the oceans. Only recently, the past 100 years, has human activity started to make serious changes to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. And Florida is finally beginning to experience the result:

Map Shows Which Miami Condo Buildings Are Most Threatened by Rising Sea Levels

Even as scientists continue reminding us that Miami is one of the most susceptible cities to the potential damages of sea-level rise, developers continue erecting shiny luxury tower after shiny luxury tower in the areas most threatened by rising tides. So EMiami Condos, a website that tracks condo development in the city, put two and two together to figure out which buildings are at the highest risk. 

The site gathered information from the FIU School of Journalism’s Eyes on the Rise app. The app allows you to key in your address and find out how many feet of sea-level rise it would take for your home to be underwater.

Another source provides additional history:

Although all the details are not well understood, the driving force behind these glacial/interglacial cycles are slow variations in Earth’s orbit as it circles the sun, which slightly decreased/increased the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface. For the current interglacial, the orbitally-driven warming eventually came to an end after the Holocene Climatic Optimum (HCO), and by 4-5000 years ago all the vulnerable land-based ice had disappeared. The volume of the global ocean was static until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, and by the 19th Century global sea level had begun to rise again. Despite undergoing short-term accelerations, and decelerations, globally-averaged sea level has undergone long-term acceleration up to the present day (Church & White [2006]Merrifield [2009]).

With some 60-70 metres worth of global sea level equivalent locked up in the vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and with global warming well underway, it raises the question of how much sea level rise we are likely to see this century (and beyond), and just how fast this might happen. Because the dynamics of ice sheet disintegration are only very crudely known, and ice sheet modelling is in its infancy, there is a large range of estimates of future sea level rise. Many now seem to converge on 1-2 metres of sea level rise by 2100 – much higher than current rates. But is this realistic? A recent paper, examining past ice sheet disintegrations, lends credence to these estimates.

Here is the pertinent graph:

Figure 2 – Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

All records I have seen show the sea level rising since 1870, about the time the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear, and we started burning fossil fuels in earnest. The rate of increase has, itself, been increasing during the time we have increased the burn rate. Here is what the current activity looks like:

Those measurements are millimeters.

Anyhow, Congressman Brooks lives in Alabama’s 5th District, approximately 600 feet above sea level. He has nothing to worry about regarding sea level rise, which is expected to be as much as 200 feet if all the polar ice melts. In fact, if he could stay around long enough he might be able to cash in on some of Alabama’s beach front property boom.

This is your President speaking.

Number 106 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.” Andrew McCarthy says, “There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.” If so, this is bigger than Watergate!

Disgraceful. Why would President Obama want to snoop on the Trump campaign? Ask and your questions will be answered.

Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

Number 15 of a continuing series

And do they ever. Start by looking at the image above. That’s from right wing religious fanatic Robert Jeffress. I lived some time in Dallas, Texas, so I gained some familiarity with the “pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church, which is in the heart of the city’s business district. More recently I subscribed to his newsletter, and I receive periodic mailings, such as the above. It’s what Pastor Jeffress has to say in this message that is most interesting. To quote:

What a fool!
I must admit, I’ve caught myself thinking this a time or two … It seems like we’ve seen more than our fair share of “fools” lately.
Just turn on the news or click on your favorite website and you’ll find —

  • Horrible mistakes
  • Immoral decisions
  • Glaring lapses in judgment

One act of foolishness can cripple the mightiest of men and destroy an entire life.
That’s why it’s so important that we learn the way of wisdom.

I changed the message text a bit to highlight the bullet points. It’s interesting to view them in the light of acknowledged fact. I’m bearing down on “Glaring lapses in judgment.” From his Wikipedia entry:

Jeffress believes that Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics and Hindus have rejected Christ and will go to hell.

In a sermon in August 2010, Jeffress said that Prophet Muhammad and Islam promoted pedophilia referring to Aisha’s age at marriage. In a part of an interview published in August 2010 by his First Baptist Dallas Youtube Channel, Robert Jeffress also said that the religion is “evil”, “violent”, and “false” while he was responding to a question about equating “the Muslim Jihad to the Christian Crusades.”

In the same interview, Jeffress also implied that the “average” numbers of casualties on September 11, 2001, had been larger than in the “overblown” atrocities committed in the name of Jesus against “unbelievers” as Jeffress was referring to The Bible and violence.

Also from Wikipedia:

In the summer of 2017, addressing the issue of DACA and children born to illegal immigrants, Jeffress said the “president is one of the most compassionate people I have ever been around, and he was sincerely torn between his sincere compassion for the DACA recipients and the oath of office he took on January 20th to execute all the laws of the land.”

Speaking of President Donald Trump, Pastor Jeffress has furthered the appearance that he lacks judgment in his more-than-cordial relationship with one of the least moral holders of the office. Wikipedia again:

For the 2016 US Presidential election, Jeffress endorsed and appeared at rallies for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump although he initially endorsed Ben Carson. Jeffress also declared that Christians who would not vote for or support Trump as the Republican nominee were “fools” and “motivated by pride rather than principle.”

And finally:

Jeffress appeared on Fox News to proclaim, “Even if [the allegation of President Donald Trump having an affair with a former adult film star Stephanie Clifford (a.k.a. Stormy Daniels) is] proven to be true, it doesn’t matter.”

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017, Jeffress appeared on the Fox Business network and said, “Evil is real, but evil is also temporary.”

After Hurricane Harvey devastated the greater Houston area, Jeffress was recorded in the Oval Office praying, “We thank you that the president had the wisdom to call our nation right now to a Day of Prayer. This is what we need.”

That should about do it with “Glaring lapses in judgment.” And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

This is your President speaking.

Number 105 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History…and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!

Thank you, Mr. President, and here is some advice to you. Don’t drop the soap.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 111).

Since you never know when some whack job is going to confront you in traffic, you need to keep your piece always handy for when the situation arises. The National Rifle Association works to ensure you don’t have to put up with this shit.

A Marine veteran tried to confront a tailgating driver and was shot in the head, officials say

 February 5

An off-duty Arizona fire captain was shot and killed in an alleged road-rage incident Sunday by a man who told investigators he thought his gun was not loaded, authorities said.

Kyle Brayer, a former Marine and 10-year veteran of the Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department, was riding in a golf cart with friends early Sunday morning in Scottsdale when a man in a red Scion coupe began driving closely, nearly hitting the back of the cart, police said.

After the cart pulled up to a stop sign, Brayer walked over to the coupe and was shot in the head, according to police. The 34-year-old died at a hospital.

Better be safe than sorry I always say.

This is your President speaking.

Number 104 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Can you believe that with all of the made up, unsourced stories I get from the Fake News Media, together with the $10,000,000 Russian Witch Hunt (there is no Collusion), I now have my best Poll Numbers in a year. Much of the Media may be corrupt, but the People truly get it!

Keep talking, Mr. President, and I will keep writing.

Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

Number 8 in a Series

Some may know that I subscribe to a number of odd ball conservative (OBC) outlets, and these have demonstrated to be an absolute treasure. One of the OBC conservative outlets I follow is CNS News, and these guys do say some of the darndest things. But first let’s go to the number 1 OBC,

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

And you know what? The Number 1 OBC is right, and CNS News has found the guy:

By Melanie Arter | May 15, 2018 | 6:27 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – A 37-year-old Mexican national in Texas has been charged with voter fraud for illegally voting in the 2016 election, Fox News reported Tuesday.

A grand jury indicted Laura Janeth Garza on May 10 of voter impersonation and ineligible voting. Both charges are 2nd degree felonies. If convicted, she could face two to 20 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Yep, they got her. The guy the N1OBC warned us about is free no more to muck up the voting  process and steal  elections. It’s amazing what barrels of electronic ink, hours of inflated network rhetoric, and a few million dollars worth of legal expense can accomplish. I’m feeling safer already.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This is currently streaming on Hulu, and I avoided watching it, because I knew what it was going to be about. It’s Parkland, from 2013, produced in part by Tom Hanks through American Film Company
Playtone, and distributed by Exclusive Media Group. The screen shots are from Hulu. Details are from Wikipedia.

Parkland, as everybody who lived in Dallas knows, stands for Parkland Memorial Hospital, the Dallas County hospital. It’s the public service hospital for the county, where you go if you’re having a baby, and you can’t afford medical care. It’s supported by a county-wide tax, but people from neighboring counties make use of the facility. It’s where they took President Kennedy when he was shot a few blocks away in November 1963. And that’s what this story is about, but not all the events take place there.

22 November 1963 dawns like any other day, much as did 7 December 1941 and 11 September 2001. People are going about their business, not realizing that shortly their lives are going to be upended. Dr. Charles James Carrico (Zac Efron) is preparing to start his day as resident, meaning the go-to doctor of the day. He is soon to receive the most important patient in the world.

Everybody knows that President Kennedy will be in Dallas this Friday. People are making preparations. The President has spent the night in Fort Worth, about 35 miles to the west. He will fly into  Dallas Love Field in the lat morning and will tour through downtown about noon.

Among those getting ready is Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), who has his 8mm movie camera and is looking for an elevated spot to get a good view.

The plot move quickly, and Mr. Zapruder watches through his viewfinder as the history of the 20th century pivots. The stricken President is driven directly to Parkland.

Shocked at seeing the most important person on the planet lying, likely already dead, on his operating table, Dr. Carrico has to be coaxed to commence the fruitless task. We see the awful conclusion as Jackqueline Kennedy reacts to the fatal pronouncement.

Everybody already knows the main plot, but this film dwells on the back story, the people not in the news that day. As news announcements disclose that Lee Harvey Oswald has been arrested after murdering a cop in south Dallas (Oak Hill), his brother Robert (James Badge Dale) hears the news at work. He leaves immediately, his life in Dallas at an end.

Reaction to the murder among law enforcement officials is swift and wrought with recrimination. Lee Oswald had been a known trouble maker, and nobody had been able to prevent his getting at the President.

Law enforcement is about to be further embarrassed, as Oswald is murdered while in police custody. Dr. Carrico loses the second most important patient on the planet.

The following Monday a state funeral is held for President Kennedy, with the symbolic empty saddle and burial at Arlington Cemetery. Robert is left to bury his brother in a donated grave site. No pallbearers are available, and news photographers volunteer. As Robert begins the task of shoveling dirt over Lee’s coffin, workers standing by pitch in to help.

It is all over, and the world goes on.

The seamy underside of the historic event is played out.

Government officials prepare to load the President’s body onto Air Force One, but the county coroner objects. The law requires an autopsy before the body can  be released. This is a murder case. The Secret Service has the guns, and the coroner is overruled, this following a physical struggle.

Abraham Zapruder realizes he has world history inside his camera, and he takes it to the Dallas Morning News. They realize they can’t develop the 8mm, so they recommend the Kodak lab north of Love Field, a place I have used. The lab does not normally process 8mm, but the task is assigned to a specialist at the lab, who develops the film, making copies for Zapruder, the Secret Service, and the FBI. Zapruder is immediately set upon by hoards of media outlets, bidding for the priceless cargo. He ignores the ringing of his phone until he finally picks it up. Life magazine is calling, and he grants them an audience, because he respects the publication. As Zapruder, in his office at work, sets conditions for use of the images (no shots of the President’s head exploding from the impact of a bullet), people outside his office are pounding on the door and slipping offers in writing under the door.

We see Robert visiting his brother in jail and speaking to him by phone through a glass partition. Afterward the police wonder what was said. It is not realistic such a conversation would have been private.

The police advise Robert to move away from Dallas and to change his name, which he does.

Lee Oswald’s mother is shown as a shrewish bitch, convinced Lee is innocent and the victim of a conspiracy. She boasts of the expected wealth to come her way from her son’s notoriety, this before Lee is murdered.

Some historical accuracy is lacking. An account published shortly after tells of the scene in the Parkland emergency room. The doctor worked on Kennedy’s frontal injuries before turning the body over. He saw the massive head wound and only then realized it was “incompatible with life.” The film does not show this bit.

Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

Number 7 in a Series

Some are odder than others. Take, for example, cashiered Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North:

“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists—this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said. “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things—even there you didn’t have this kind of thing.”

It is most disgraceful to see the return of the Jim Crow days. This refusal to serve NRA members, this denial of their right to vote, these public lynchings of NRA members—this has got to stop.

And I intend to put a stop to it. Just as soon as I quit laughing.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 105 in a series

Even in 21st century America, Jesus continues to take innocent lives. Most recently:

Jonathan Foster, 35, and Grace Foster, 34, also were convicted Friday in Berks County court of child endangerment in the November 2016 death of daughter Ella Grace in Upper Tulpehocken Township.

The parents of a 2-year-old Pennsylvania girl who died of pneumonia have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors said they declined to seek medical care for the child on religious grounds.

Jonathan Foster, 35, and Grace Foster, 34, also were convicted Friday in Berks County court of child endangerment in the November 2016 death of daughter Ella Grace in Upper Tulpehocken Township, The Reading Eagle reported.

This is not some Mississippi River Delta town, tucked away in a stand of yellow pines. Reading, PA, is the county seat, located a short drive north of Philadelphia. The child’s parents, who were trusted to ensure her development into a healthy adult, attributed her death to “God’s will,” meaning Jesus. May Jesus have mercy on their souls.

Quiz Question

Here we see a prism, for the sake of this problem let’s call it a cereal box lying flat on a table. The height of the box (lying flat) is 12 cm. The other two dimensions are 25 and 36 cm. An ant at A wants to take the shortest path to B. The ant is not allowed to crawl along the bottom of the box. How long  is the shortest path?

Post your answer in the comments section  below.

This is your President speaking.

Number 103 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME. Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!

I am unable to  translate that last word. Can somebody help me out here? In the meantime, it’s good to see he has finally figured out how to get Mexico to  pay for the wall.

Don’t drop the soap.

Number 6 in a Series

It’s good advice to anybody who’s in the position of President Trump’s personal lawyer. Last week on CNN Anderson Cooper was speaking to another lawyer acquainted with Michael Cohen. Michael Avenatti, who represents porn star Stormy Daniels in a case against Cohen, continues to find interesting details related to Cohen’s business dealings.

Cohen formed Essential Consultants LLC a few days prior to writing a check to the actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. The check was for $130,000, and it was payment to Ms. Clifford in return for her agreement to not talk publicly about having humped the future president ten years previous. The Delaware company was from all appearances formed for the sole purpose of insulating Cohen from the payment. It was Essential Consultants whose name was on  the check. That would have been interesting enough, but this Delaware company-in-name-only has since developed a life of its own, and that life seems to  consist entirely of passing money from one hand to the next. More recent customers include:

  • Columbus Nova
  • Novartis Investments S.a.r.l.
  • AT&T
  • Korea Aerospace Industries.

For people who do not know, Columbus Nova is an investment company with ties to Victor Vekselberg. Mr. Vekselberg is a Russian oligarch with close ties to recurring Russian President Vladimir Putin. Novartis is a multi-national pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland. That company’s modus operandi has in the past included making multi-million dollar bribes to foreign governments. AT&T is, of course, a century-old American company that began life as Southwestern Bell Telephone company, an offshoot of a company formed by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Full disclosure: my mother spent her working career working for this company and retired on a company pension. Upon her death I received a death benefit of several hundred dollars from the company. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is the sole major aircraft company in South Korea. Their recent claim to fame includes the company’s near collapse following revelations that company executives were fixing the books and directing cash into their pockets. A deal with American  Lockheed-Martin to build military aircraft is now in jeopardy.

Enough of that. Attorney Cohen, whose only client seems to be the President of the United States, recently had every inch of his personal space raided by the FBI seeking information relating  to special  prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian government meddling with the 2016 election. Is Mr. Cohen in trouble? He has not been charged with any crime, although his payment to Ms. Clifford has the possibility of being in violation of campaign finance law.

The CNN interview with attorney Avenatti yielded a number of picturesque screen shots, including this one:

So, Columbus Nova is assuring us that gospodin Vekselberg was not personally involved in making payments to Michael Cohen. That is most comforting to Mr. Cohen. Provided it sticks.

In  the meantime, I have some advice for Mr. Cohen. Wherever life and circumstances take you in the next few months, keep your wits about you, and be aware at all times of your surroundings. And don’t drop the soap.