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Showing posts from March, 2017


POTUS has decided it might be OK after all for non-violent illegal immigrants who work and pay taxes to stay in America. No citizenship unless they entered as children, and he still wants to deport violent criminals and strengthen border security.

Which is actually quite reasonable in broad outline. No midnight raids. No mass deportations of peaceful and (now) law-abiding people. Lose the delusion that he's going to build a wall across the entire border (much less make Mexico pay for it), and it might even be the basis for the compromise which he's now uncharacteristically saying he's looking for on immigration.

In a rare burst of apparent humility, Mr. Trump has even given his F- level performance on communication with the American people a C.

So will the border hawks buy it? Are the Trump fanatics really willing to follow The Donald wherever he leads, or will they feel betrayed? Just how blind is Trump-worship, anyway?

The president will also address health care tonight.…

The new healthcare bill has to make coverage accessible to everybody

I, for one, am glad the Republican health care bill failed.

Yes, it was a work in progress. Yes, it would have been changed and amended and probably receive its final form in a House-Senate conference committee. Yes, if President Trump hadn't chosen to cluelessly and ham-handedly step in and force a vote on a bill which he was guaranteed to lose on before the process of negotiation and compromise could have even made much of a beginning of patching the holes, a better bill might conceivably have emerged.

But the bill as written was a disaster. It would have deprived huge numbers of Americans of their coverage and in the last analysis been far worse than what it replaced. Given the influence of the Crazy Right in this conference and the relative powerlessness of anybody to the left of center, I'm not sure the influences necessary to have produced an equitable bill could have been brought to bear. Yes, all things considered, maybe it's good that Paul Ryan pulled the bill, j…

Update on the 'New Space Race'

The entry of Jeff Bezos and Blue Origins now makes it a three-way race back to the moon (or four, if you count China).

The story keeps getting more and more interesting. And it makes huge sense, given both the stimulus to the economy and the revenue boost to the Federal government which resulted from all the new industries and companies given birth by Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

Trump's epic ineptitude sinks Obamacare reform

"We learned a lot about loyalty," said President Trump after shooting himself in the foot over healthcare today.

No, Mr. President. We learned a lot about your own ineptitude. Or rather, we learned what anyone who has paid the slightest actual attention to your career rather than to your boasting already knew: that you are in fact an incredibly inept dealmaker, a terrible strategist, and a blowhard.

After running on the promise of a wonderful health care plan that would insure everybody, the President and the Republican congressional leadership came up with a monstrosity that would have left millions more Americans uninsured than are today. And both the crazies who so hate Obamacare that repealing it is more important to them than benefiting the American people and the sane Republicans who actually care more about the welfare of the American people than about ideology balked.

Rather than exercising common sense and discretion by working to build a bill that he could get a co…

Trump will try to strong arm the House on healthcare tomorrow

President Trump has sent a message to the House that he's through negotiating on health care and wants the yeas and nays on Trumpcare called. 

A series of votes- including one to repeal basic health benefits established by the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare")- has been scheduled for Friday. It is not clear that the president and Speaker Ryan have the votes.

Either the president and the speaker are going to wind up with egg all over their faces or lots of Americans are going to find their healthcare coverage in mortal danger. This kind of treatment of a co-equal branch of the Federal government is quite Trumpesque, and exactly the kind of arrogance I and many others expected from him.

Doubtless,  the red meat crowd will cheer. They realize no more than the president that in Washington things get done by compromise and accommodation. We will find out tomorrow whether or not the members of the House have the testicular fortitude to stand up to bullying from the other e…

We need more citizens, and fewer cultists

I cannot stand Keith Olbermann.  He has many characteristics in common with Donald Trump. He foams at the mouth a lot. Even when he has a valid point, he's over the top.  He has a nasty streak in him a mile wide. He raves. He sputters. He is, at the end of the day, a merchant of fear and hate.

I don't agree with Olbermann very often. The man is a poster child for fanaticism. When I do agree with him, it makes me rethink my position.

But I just heard an Olbermann commentary which I- by and large- agree with. Ok, he overplayed his hand on a couple of points and raved and sputtered more than was good for his small store of credibility. But he had a point.

It seems that the son of a retired teacher from Tennessee- I won't repeat her admittedly ironic and somewhat fitting name because I don't like humiliating even people who deserve it- recently lost his job. His insurance premiums promptly dropped by nearly $500 a month. And she thanks God for President Trump and his tax …

Why foreign aid helps US

As J.J. Messner herein points out, foreign aid is anything but failing to put "America first." It increases the stability of friendly regimes, makes it more difficult for our enemies to recruit supporters and undermine those governments, and is a great deal less costly not only in terms of lives but even in dollars than fighting wars would be.

Foreign aid is more than justifiable on humanitarian grounds alone. But whether or not the current administration realizes it, it's a powerful diplomatic tool for advancing our purposes and protecting our interests all over the world. If we'd stayed as financially involved in the well-being of Afghanistan as we were when we were quietly helping the Muhajadeen fight the Soviets, we might not be fighting many of the same people now we were helping back them.

More than that, it creates markets for American goods in other countries and helps them to develop. American foreign aid is good for American business.

Becoming miserly about…

This man must be contained

From the Bowling Green Massacre and the FBI's duel-purpose microwaves to POTUS's fantasies about his predecessor spying on him, it's becoming harder and harder to even take this administration seriously. And it was never easy, to begin with.

We knew what this guy was when he announced his candidacy for president. Or at least those of us who were not buried so deep in denial that we refused to pay attention did. To the right is the New York Daily News front page that day. With every outrageous statement ("Obama was born in Kenya," for example, or "Ted Cruz's dad conspired with Oswald to kill JFK"), every promise to compromise the Bill of Rights and every threat against those who opposed him, it became clearer and clearer that his man was simply not fit to lead an eighth-grade class, much less the nation. Every lie (by one estimate during the campaign, one every five minutes) and every crazy promise (the impractical, outrageously expensive and physic…

America will never live Donald Trump down

Of all the many negatives of Donald Trump's presidency, probably the worst is that while the day will come when he is no longer in the White House, America will never live down the fact that it ever let someone like him be there in the first place.

Both the American presidency and America's reputation in the eyes of the world shrink with every moment that this impulsive juvenile is in a position to insult our allies and make us look ridiculous.

Drat. We're gonna miss it.

I've waited all my life for this August's total solar eclipse. But there's an even bigger show coming. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss it.

Every winter I have to find the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest galaxy similar to the Milky Way, all over again. Once I do, I can make it out- barely- with the naked eye for the rest of the winter. It's spectacular in a pair of 7x50 binoculars.

Well, M31, as the Andromeda Galaxy is known (its designation in the catalog of  French astronomer Charles Messier, compiled in 1771 to help comet hunters avoid mistaking other cosmic fuzzballs for comets) and our own Milky Way are headed for a collision. Don't worry; you're safe- or would be if you were alive 3.75 million years from now when it actually happens. The space between stars is so huge that stellar collisions are unlikely. But the nighttime sky will be in for some major changes as the two spiral galaxies merge into one huge elliptical galaxy.

Here's how it's goi…

Not to say 'I told you so,' or anything, but....

...I told you so.

President Trump's approval rating is now at 37%,  the lowest for any president at this point in his administration since polls have been taken. 58% of Americans disapprove of the way he's done his job as president.

I can only add one thing: we don't know anything about the guy or the way he does business now that we didn't know last November- or would have known if we'd been paying attention.

American people, it's good that you're wising up. But you still blew it, and there is no excuse. You should have known better. And given his first budget, the lives of a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump are going to get a whole lot harder- and they have nobody to blame for it but themselves.

The truly sad thing is that if the voters of the Republican party had gotten behind a decent, rational candidate in time to stop Trump, he would have been elected. I continue to believe that, as it is, Donald Trump will be the last Republican president. Th…

Maewyn Succat revisited

My father used to say that there were two kinds of people in this world: those who were Irish, and those who wished they were.

Today is the day when everybody pretends to be Irish. Well, not everybody; here and there, one spies a miscreant with nary a scrap o' the Green about his or her person. But St. Patrick's Day is the ethnic holiday most widely celebrated by the culture generally, even outside of the ethnic group for whom it is a special observance- and even those who forbear to wear the Green this day out of an honest though sad awareness that they, themselves, are not fortunate enough to have Irish blood still feel a touch of the magic.

St. Patrick (Padraig, auf Gaelic, meaning "noble") was born Maewyn Succat (Maewyn meaning "warlike"), son of a couple named Calphurnius and Conchessa,in Dunbarton, Scotland, in the year 387. His father, Calphurnius, seems to have been a Roman official from an important family (how he came to be exiled to the Empire…

How in the universe can Elon Musk and a private company like SpaceX get us to Mars?

Maybe more easily, more cheaply, and faster than NASA can!

Yet more evidence that EM Drive is a thing

The Cannae Drive- another version of the EM drive first conceived by Roger Shawyer a decade ago- has been successfully tested by NASA.

The "Impossible Drive" works quite well, it seems.

The second race to the moon is underway- and both contestants are American

Score another one for the Trump administration: we're not leaving the moon to the Chinese after all. Nor,  as the Obama administration had planned, will we be delaying our return to the moon and our trip to Mars into the somewhat distant future.

Both NASA and Elon Musk's SpaceX have announced lunar missions for the next few years. NASA's will spend an extended time in lunar orbit; SpaceX will be content with a simple loop around the moon and return by two billionaires who will pay full fare for the trip.

But the immediate future of space is now a great deal more interesting.

This is not a wedding cake. This is not a matter of flowers. What it is is unconscionable- and unconstitutional.

This from the office of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Matthew Harrison:

We are in legal Never Never Land — uncharted territory within a society and a legal system increasingly averse to Christians living faithfully in their vocations. Pastor John Hill, president of the LCMS Wyoming District, filled me in yesterday. The decision of the Wyoming Supreme Court on the case of Wyoming Judge Ruth Neely has landed. By a 3-2 majority, they ruled Judge Neely — a faithful member of an LCMS congregation — is guilty of 3 of 4 ethics violations filed by the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics. Here’s part of the ruling:

“We decline to remove Judge Neely from her position as a municipal court judge; such a punishment would ‘unnecessarily circumscribe protected expression,’ and we are mindful of our goal to narrowly tailor the remedy;” and “We conclude that Judge Ruth Neely shall receive a public censure; Judge Neely shall either perform no marriage ceremonies or she shall per…

Evan McMullin would vote for a Democrat for Congress

And if that Democrat were decent, and the Republicans put up a Trump rubber stamp, so would I.
At present, it's not my intention to vote in 2018 because I don't expect to be given a reasonable choice by the two moral train wrecks we have for political parties. But if the Democrats put up a moderate candidate who was sound on defense and moral issues, I wouldn't hesitate. David Young needs to be held to account for his support of Trump last year and since.

Republican nevermore

Heather Simms and Karlyn Bowman of Forbes report that Republicans are solidly behind President Trump and that the opposition to him now comes almost entirely from the Left.

But the analysis fails to take into account people like me, who left the Republican party because of Trump and are now independents. We weren't taken into account by the poll on which they base their conclusions, and as a result, Simms and Bowman greatly underestimate our numbers.

But the poll does reinforce my observation that the break decent and non-self-deluded Republicans have made with the Republican party is permanent, and not merely a temporary disaffection such as occurred, say, in 1964 with Republicans or in 1972 with Democrats. Any party which could get this solidly behind a man like Donald Trump is a party with which I want absolutely nothing to do, now or in the future.

For better or for worse, the McMullin movement clearly seems to be the lifeboat for those conservatives who stand for the values R…

Stop teaching cursive writing? Are you serious?

Quoth Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight:

14 states

Number of states that require students to reach proficiency in cursive writing, which seems dumb and vestigial. Still, that number is on the rise. Realistically, kids need to learn cursive only because people still write in cursive — we’d teach them Teeline if speed was really the goal. In any case, I think proficiency is a bit too far; maybe require students to reach the “able to sign things” level of capability and leave it at that.

Really, dude?  No, speed is not the goal. Are you even listening to yourself? You're ok with people not being able to write? I've heard stories about states eliminating the teaching of cursive writing, but this is the first time I've ever come across an actual defense of that lame-brained "progressive" educational idea.

Is it any wonder people seem to be getting more ignorant generation by generation? It's not that people are getting stupider. I truly believe that in large measure…