Trump supporters: he’s a liar but he’s our liar…

October 30, 2017

You would think that all conservatives and all America-first nationalistic-minded citizens would be up in arms to realize that their president has associated so much with people with ties to a foreign government that it our adversary.

So will the indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager on money laundering charges, a man who is known to have close ties to Russia, turn them against Trump?

Manafort made millions as a foreign agent but skipped paying taxes as we working people have to.

I think a lot of Trump supporters see it this way: all politicians are liars, but Trump is our liar.

A business partner with Manafort was also charged.

And the thing about close ties with Russia — they probably think it’s all made up stuff — even if Manafort has admitted to such — by Trump’s adversaries or they are just indifferent because they like Trump because he gives the intellectual elite such a bad time with his ignorance and his boorish behavior. Stick it to the elites, never mind the facts.

And looking at it another way, the elites should have brought themselves down to the level of the common man a little for the campaign and talked more bread and butter issues than the high-minded we are all in it together it takes a village stuff. No, reality is each voter has to think of him or herself and their family first.

Nevertheless, we have a president who has at the very least made poor choices about who he consorts with and at the most is in the pocket of the Russians.

He claims he has no concern because none of what has taken place involves him or his administration. Really?

Well, he may be your liar but he is not mine — I say that to all of you Trump supporters.

This may still play out like Watergate. The steady drip, drip, drip may force Trump’s reluctant protectors in the Republican majority to turn against him.

P.s.

A foreign policy advisor to Trump has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his work as a foreign agent. So we have a little insight as to how Trump sorts out foreign policy issues.

 

 

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No new news on JFK assassination? Second Amendment aided assassin and then executioner…

October 30, 2017

 

With the release of what some might call a treasure trove of government documents, up to now classified as secret, about the President John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 (I was a freshman in high school), it seems so far nothing really new has come out — and may never. There may be nothing to come out.

More documents are to come pending further review, it has been reported. Since most of the stuff is like five decades old it is hard to see how it could affect anything now in intelligence or international relations. It’s history.

But to hear the stories, it is always a wonder to me how many people wanted Kennedy dead.

Not in any order here and not a complete list, but Fidel Castro, the late Cuban communist dictator who was the subject of assassination attempts or plans by the U.S., and the U.S. mafia who were purported to have been angry because they had supposedly helped boost the vote count for JFK in 1960 when he won a squeaker over Richard Nixon only to become subject themselves of an investigation on organized crime by the Kennedy administration, and Lyndon Johnson who as JFK’s vice president despised the Kennedys as uppity and was likewise despised by them for his earthy ways, and the CIA for JFK calling off the botched invasion of Cuba, and President Diem supporters in Vietnam who were incensed about the Kennedy administration giving tacit approval for the assassination of Diem, who had become an embarrassment to the U.S. during the Vietnam War, not to mention various right-wing groups who saw JFK as too liberal (pushing civil rights and all), and there are no doubt more possibilities.

But even though all these people or groups may have had a beef with JFK I suppose it is possible that one nut case, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had served in the U.S. Marine Corps but who had defected to the Soviet Union for a time, may have been the lone assassin, and who knows what his motivation was?

It does seem like the FBI and CIA were not too eager to let the public know that they failed to take proper measures after Oswald purportedly made open threats against JFK and met with Soviet and Cuban officials in Mexico City weeks before the JFK assassination. That item is among the so-called treasure trove. Actually I had heard of Oswald’s meeting with the commies in Mexico City as long ago as maybe not long after the assassination — I am not sure about his open threats to JFK.

And then of course there is that infamous “grassy knoll” on the parade route on that fateful day in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. It’s like legend (the term “grassy knoll” is forever connected with the JFK assassination). My memory is that the TV news reporters immediately after the event were saying some people had spotted suspicious men on a grassy knoll. Some have speculated that the president was killed in a crossfire.

We don’t live in a police state (yet), so maybe it is understandable that the security for the president that day missed out on the fact that a known Soviet sympathizer who had made threats against the president lived in Dallas and worked in a tall building on the presidential parade route. Oswald no doubt knew the president would come by his place of work because a map of the route had been published in the local paper.

And JFK, who was running for re-election, eschewed the bubble on his limousine for an open car, against the advice of his security.

In the United States each and every one of us has a right to have guns (Second Amendment to the Constitution). Oswald bought a mail order rifle and used it to shoot the president.

A man named Jack Ruby had his own handgun and dispensed instant justice; he walked right up and shot Oswald dead as the local cops were taking him on what amounted to a “perp walk” (those displays of prisoners they like to do and journalists either like to or are obligated to cover). They were actually trying to move Oswald out of the police headquarters to another (more secure?) jail facility.

 


Fats Domino just died, sadly Rock n Roll passed away long ago on the popular scene…

October 26, 2017

Fats Domino, maybe the greatest singer/musician in Rock n Roll history, has died, at age 89.

He had a strong but mellow voice and played the piano in a distinctive and self-taught style that to me was the essence of Rock n Roll in its early years — the real Rock n Roll.

I never saw him but I remember in the late 1950s when he came to the town where I then lived, Tulare, Ca.

But I am not sure all of what I remember was correct. I was a street sales paper boy and I recall seeing a large bus-like vehicle or maybe a limousine-like vehicle with his name on it.

He stayed at the Hotel Tulare in the old downtown, which was just the downtown back then.

And now the part that may be just legend or gossip. I was told that there was controversy over whether he would be rented a room at the Hotel, he being a black man. At that time all the black people (or almost all) lived in a separate section of town, known as “colored town”. Now that part is a fact. And that meant that the black kids for the most part attended different schools until they reached junior high. There was one black girl in my grade school classes at the school I attended the longest and at least two black boys at the first school I attended. They must have lived just over the color line. I know, what does this have to do with Fats Domino? Just the irony and injustice of racial discrimination.

Well, he did stay at the Hotel Tulare as far as I know. And I do not even know where he performed. Maybe some Tulare people can answer that. I imagine the Vets Hall where Connie Francis once performed.

I do know that my sister had a some of his 45 RPM records with songs such as Blue Berry Hill, Ain’t That a Shame, and I’m Walkin’.  I used to like to play them.

Pat Boone, as white as you can get, followed up with his own recording of Ain’t That a Shame. And that was the way back then. White singers “covered” records by black performers, as I understand of course to make hits for themselves but it also helped the black performers become accepted into the mainstream of entertainment in a heavily-segregated society. Heck, black people were not even seen on TV commercials until the late 1960s when I graduated from high school.

Well, that was my memory of Fats Domino

As far as I know, as popular music Rock n Roll died a long time ago now, along with its country cousin, so-called “country-western” music. What some call Rock music to me has no relation and certainly the other popular music of the day, even so-called “country music”, has little to no relation. Fats Domino is dead along with his music, except in the hearts of all of us of the age who once enjoyed it when it was young and alive. I can’t even find oldies stations that play it anymore — maybe if I would get satellite radio they would have it.

I will miss the Fat Man as I do Rock n Roll.

 

 

 


Lots of room for interpretation in the Second Amendment but it’s all academic…

October 23, 2017

Note: a few posts ago I wrote that I wanted to do something on the Second Amendment. Well what follows is something but certainly not a complete analysis.


 

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (part of what we call the Bill of Rights) is terse and ambiguous in that it seems to connect the right of citizens to keep and bear arms (have guns) with something called the militia.

(I don’t think we are talking the modern phenomenon of self-proclaimed vigilantes running around in camouflage looking like a cross between GI Joe and a deer hunter.)

Well except the late Justice Antonin Scalia did not see it that way and the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed — citizens have a constitutional right to have guns for their own use irrespective of military service, it concluded.

So really for all intents and purposes that pretty well settles it unless a future court decides otherwise, and the high court does not like to reverse its own rulings, rather it prefers to follow the principle of stare decisis, going by legal precedent (what has been decided in the past), I guess to avoid uncertainty and promote trust in the law — even though on occasions it has, such as Brown v the Board of Education when it decided that separate is not equal in public services and accommodations, in the landmark civil rights case, thus overturning a ruling some 56 years previous.

I’ve been trying to research the Second Amendment but my work life and other things have impeded that. But I know the confusion in part comes in by the outdated language and the weird syntax and punctuation and even the strange choice of capitalization of the one-sentence amendment. I think it is correct to say that the more modern rules of English grammar were either not in effect or universal at the time of our forefathers. And today those modern rules seem to be fading with the use of the internet and tweets and the lack of emphasis on grammar in our schools — but like I often note in my blogs, that is another subject.

To further confuse matters, there are various versions of the Second Amendment with slightly different punctuation — such as the one used for ratification and the final official one approved by congress. And that leads to confusion. I think that in itself proves the value of universal rules and the correct usage in grammar (something I strive for but don’t always attain myself). The official version of the Second Amendment follows:

A well regulated  Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. 

Now at first glance I’d have to say there is some connection with serving in a militia (a kind of self-defense force) with the right to keep and bear arms. But if I understand it correctly the high court majority felt that the first part of the sentence was nothing more than words — a “prefatory clause” they called it — or that even if it did express the need for a militia, the important part of the amendment is what it called the “operative clause”, the right of the people to keep and bear arms. I have to ask: does people really mean individuals or the plural like in the people of a state or nation? But of course this is all academic. The high court has spoken; we all have a right to have guns.

But to the chagrin of some ardent all-or-nothing gun enthusiasts the high court did hold that there can be some restrictions.

A primary concern at the time of the writing of the amendment was the role of local or state militias as opposed to that of a standing federal army. Some did not even want a regular federal army. It would take a historian to figure it all out really, or at least supreme court justices reading a lot of history (of course I guess that is what they do).

One book I am reading says that there just was not much of a public record of what the authors of the Second Amendment or those who voted for it thought about the individual right to have guns. Most of the discussion seemed to center around the role of the militia. However, in some proposed drafts or some state bills of rights, the individual’s right was protected.

As to my own opinion or feeling: I have come to the conclusion that individuals in the U.S. do have what appears to be a unique guaranteed right to keep and bear arms with some reasonable restrictions, still not clearly defined by the high court.

And I somewhat reluctantly agree with gun enthusiasts that if you get too carried away with restrictions then the right to keep and bear arms is a little empty.

Just before I began to write this post (actually several days ago) I read about another wild shooting, this time in Maryland. Several people were killed and others wounded. And of course we are just coming off the worst gun massacre in our history in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. And of course, especially in the inner cities, we have constant gun violence.

We have a problem in this country with the free flow of weapons and the phenomenon of apparently mentally deranged people wanting to make a name for themselves in this era of social media and instant mass communication. They want to go out in a blaze of glory (well what they think is glory but is really infamy).

While we cannot stop all of these deranged people we can do something to stem the free flow of weapons even if it approaches infringement on our right to have guns.

Who can think living in a society with the bullets flying is a good idea?

On the other hand, it can be comforting to know that each and every one of us does have a right to protect ourselves, even though not all of ourselves are going to take advantage of that due to personal considerations or interests.

I had wanted to do a more thorough presentation on the subject but even though the Second Amendment is only one sentence the subject is rather complex.

However, for the time, I remain at least a nominal supporter of the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms.

p.s.

And about the militia. I think history shows that in the context of the Constitution we are talking of a state-organized military type unit, which in modern times is our National Guard, which each state has but which can be federalized when the need arises.

I personally don’t believe that the National Guard should be used for foreign engagements except in extreme emergencies when all qualified citizens might be subject to a military draft. But that is of course another subject.

 

 

 

 

 


‘Support the Troops’ can be a rhetorical trap…

October 17, 2017

Note: What follows is a comment I made on a Facebook post that wanted people to like it if they agreed with the message, “support the troops”. It had a photo with one of our soliders. And in a way I kind of wish I had not responded. I am not sure who actually posted it or what the motive was. I think my opinion is more appropriate in my own blog. But this is what I think about the call the “support the troops”.


I will always support the troops — they should have the best in equipment and supplies, and pay for that matter. But at some point we have to look at the policy that puts them in harm’s way. It is not unpatriotic to consider policy alternatives.
And this notion that a president can just order the troops somewhere and then we as citizens have no right to question the policy is a dangerous concept. Using that logic, a president could order troops into Canada and even though on its face that would be wrong, we as citizens would have no right to question it because doing so would be unpatriotic or treasonous. In some cases the restrictions on protest might be a little tighter in a conventionally or constitutionally declared World War II-type war, but even then citizens have a right to petition their government.
Peace lovers like me probably do more to “support the troops” than chicken hawks who have never worn the uniform and who vote against or do not vote in enough funds for the troops. And I should have saved all of this for my blog, but that phrase “support the troops” has been used too much as a rhetorical weapon against anyone who dares question ultra-right wing fascist policies. And I hope those who read this read all of my words because once troops are committed and as long as they are I do believe that they should be supplied with everything they need to handle the mission (meanwhile policy can be considered). And who wants to end up as the last person to die in an unwinnable or unjust war? Decisions are not easy. They require critical thinking not jingoism. And I do support the troops.

p.s.

For the record, the U.S. actually did invade Canada in the early days of this nation and of course Mexico in the 1800s and again in the early 20th Century — but in the post I was using a hypothetical for today’s world where we are friends with Canada and have no serious beefs (Trump notwithstanding).


Fun and games distracted the working class and then it awoke and the fun was over…

October 15, 2017

Just read a long, long story in the New York Times about a factory worker who lost her job because it was shipped off the Mexico. She had supported Trump in spirit but not vote. You will recall Trump vowed to save American jobs by taxing or otherwise punishing firms that exported jobs but brought their products back into the USA. She did not vote because she believes all politicians are liars.

I would say probably most politicians find themselves either having to lie or be less than candid, or be a little fuzzy with the truth in order to get into office and then in order to stay in office. In some cases you might see their actions as somewhat defensible (I mean we all tell white lies to be polite — yes that is a cute baby– or to keep from being punched in the nose), but in others their actions are reprehensible. But the problem is simply opting out of the system only perpetuates the problem.

I was just talking to some people I have known for years. Good hard-working (and God-fearing — or loving? sounds better to me) and I am fairly certain they never vote. And that is their own stated attitude: “all politicians are liars”.

So when you go with that attitude and opt out of the system you leave it to those who do vote and look what is has gotten us.

I am convinced that if the majority of citizens kept themselves informed, and informed through and objective analysis of available media rather than one-sided media (Fox with its Nazi-like attitude, and yes, to some extent the more traditional mainstream, which at times has seemed to be left leaning, particularly decades ago when it realized the ugly truth about Vietnam and dared question the status quo), they could make better decisions on who to vote for and might force candidates to be more transparent and own up to the truth.

But here is a whirlwind tour of what happened:

Once upon a time labor was downtrodden. But then there were unions, and then there was the boom in the economy sparked strangely and sadly enough by World War II. Laborers (I mean factory workers and skilled and not as skilled people who toil with their hands and backs and even some office or lower-level white-collar workers) moved into the middle class. With their newfound wealth they became complacent. And then came technology which offered fun and games to the populace. They could not be bothered with the affairs of the nation and world — they had work and then the fun and games.

The corporate interests realized no one was paying attention. The politicians realized it was the corporate interests they needed to satisfy more than the public, so much of which was distracted by their bread and circuses or fun and games.

And then one day the factory worker woke up and her job was gone, along with the fun and games she could no longer pay for.

Gee what happened?

Maybe you should have paid attention.

p.s.

Simplistic I know. And real abbreviated. But don’t you see some truth or accuracy there?

Wake up America before it is all gone.


My initiation into trucker e-logs under fire and my acceptance…

October 13, 2017

To truckers who fear electronic logs or e-logs as they are called, I quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

I write this but must admit I was apprehensive, to put it mildly, myself until maybe just a little less than 24 hours ago. And I do not yet have the thing mastered, but I did use an e-log for a run up to Portland, Or. and back to my home base in Redding, Ca.

(My pre-trip training into e-logs was little more than here it is, go for it. But along the way I got a lot of help.)

Upon my return the shop foreman asked me how I like the new system (he has to deal with them at least as far as installation and upkeep and when they move the trucks around the yard).

My response was something like this: at first I hated it, then I began to like it, then I hated it again, and finally I liked it again and accepted it. If you want to drive the big truck nowadays you have to accept reality and do the best you can — that is all anyone can do (despite tight restrictions on movement enforced by law enforcement officers that can run counter to the demands you get from dispatch and shippers and receivers and your own need to make a living).

But in going back over my initial experience, which was something akin to a baptism under fire, I realize that it was no different from several I, a baby boomer, have had in my lifetime — and I survived.

My first experience with new technology was when I was still in the newspaper trade and we moved from typewriters to video display terminals (actually computers — forerunners of the desktops and laptops, and tablets, and let’s add the now do-everything cell phone of today — even if I am still using the flip phone — I am planning to upgrade as soon as I can, though).

I remember it well. I had quit one job in disgust and took another one, and the new place was on these new video display terminals — no more copy paper, no more ink-stained hands from changing your ribbon, no more pencil marks on all your copy to correct your typos (I made a lot of them), spell check (gosh could it get any better?), search and replace, and much more.

The new boss gave me quick verbal instructions on how to operate this new-fangled electronic typewriter that was far more than a typewriter. There was no instructional manual I was shocked to learn (or if there was there was none for me).

So, using old-fashioned terminology I know, I typed in a story (should I say keyboarded?). I loved the way I could correct my errors or rewrite and see what I was doing right on that TV screen (well it looked like a TV). The story was long. I was proud of it. And then it disappeared before my eyes never to be seen again, at least in its original draft. I did not know how to save it on the computer (there was no save icon or button then).

I sat in front of that thing for a day or more not able to get anywhere while my computer-experienced co-workers keyboarded away, seemingly oblivious to my plight. I finally told my boss I did not think this was going to work for me. But he asked one of the reporters to help me. The guy suggested I keep a notebook and jot down everything as I learned it. You have to realize that back then we had to input something called formats, which were unintelligible letter and number codes. But anyway before long I was keyboarding my stories in just like the rest of them.

Then years later came the cell phone. Actually at that time they were easy, and my favorite true story about the cell phone (I know I began talking about e-logs for trucks, but this all ties in) goes like this:

I made a career change from journalism to trucking in my mid 40s. I was brand new and team driving. I and another driver, both of us based on the West Coast, were on the East Coast wanting to get a new dispatch to head back home. But we were always in competition for loads with our fellow drivers in the same company. One or the other of us would need to get out of the truck and go over to the pay phone and make a call to dispatch. But we saw one of our fellow company drivers already headed that way. Drat! he’ll get the next load and we will be left sitting. I looked at my co-driver and said: “watch this”.

I had one of the original bag phones (you know in a canvas case, looking like an old army field phone without the spool of wire).

I placed a call to dispatch and beat the other driver who had not yet reached the pay phone. Technology was our friend.

In the interest of space and time I will leave out some of the other technological breakthroughs I overcame (well there was the shift — play on words here — from manual shift trucks to automatics — best move ever!).

Now as I said, I have not yet bought a smart phone. I am one of the few (I know, though, I am not alone) on the planet to still be using a flip phone). But learning how to do the e-log is no more complicated that using that new smart phone I am sure — maybe less so from what I have heard. Or probably about the same.

So now the concern is will I as a driver (and I am talking about everyone’s concern not me personally) be able to do my job and make enough miles (long-haul is paid by the mile) with that darned e-log tracking every second (no more “adjusting” your paper log to make it all fit)?

The answer: either I don’t know or something has to give. There is already a driver shortage and drivers are not going to accept a pay decrease (not for long anyway).

A driver shortage works in our favor. The industry it seems to me will have to get more efficient and cut down on those waiting times and make more sensible dispatch decisions. And I do not mean to criticize dispatchers (cardinal rule for truckers — don’t make your dispatcher unhappy). I even sympathize (to some extent) with shippers and receivers (some of them). I know the complexities of logistics (after 22 years being involved in it). There is lots of traffic on the road, a drastic shortage of parking spaces to take our rest breaks, bad weather, and ever-tightening hours of service regulations in the name of safety. And with all of that is the demand for “just-in-time” delivery. No one wants to or can afford to keep huge inventories, so it is like next-day delivery or as-soon-as-you-can-possibly-get-there delivery. Also I haul a lot of produce. Shelf life is short on most of it, so it is a rush to get it there while it is still good.

But something has to give.

As drivers paper logs were our best friend and our enemy at the same time. They forced us to fudge (cheat some people call it) because our bosses knew we could and expected it but took no responsibility for it, and we wanted to (had to) make money (who doesn’t?). Also, writing (and rewriting) paper logs is time-consuming and risky (two-thousand dollar and more fines — possible loss or suspension of driver’s license). Not to mention making one feel he or she is a criminal.

Even though I am a newby on e-logs (and I am not ashamed to say I am sometimes technology shy) I realize it is a new day. At 68 years old I just have to go with the flow or get out of the stream. I’m going to give it a go.

There is the conundrum of what do I do when I am at a shipper or receiver and my time runs out and my unforgiving e-log won’t let me “adjust things”. I’ve already had that happen and I won’t go into detail — a kind of Fifth Amendment thing.

Until there is some workable provision in the law to deal with getting caught over hours and no place to park (some think there is but in my reading there is not) all I can figure is I have to cut back on dispatches I will accept. If it even looks like it will run me over time I might have to decline — and that hurts because it means less money and maybe I don’t start heading for home as soon as I would like or maybe I get caught in that approaching storm over the mountains because of the delay. And besides I feel like I am not helping the company who is the source of my livelihood.

Even though I am on a more flexible schedule (fewer miles), voluntarily (I asked for it), due to my age and the fact I am on Social Security, I do not intend to work for less money for what I do. Something has to give. And I am sure that drivers out there who have families to support do not intend to work for less, regardless of hours of service restrictions and electronic surveillance (what it really is).

Something has to give.

p.s.

Make no mistake about it, all of this is just an intermediary step to driverless trucks, which will replace probably not all but a vast amount of the national fleet. But this is today and we have to live with today’s challenges. But for young people: I’d look for a different career — unless you want to train in computers and logistics or repair of the systems used. I’m sure we will always need what we today refer to as “mechanics” or “technicians” — but they will need more and different skills than required in previous times, plus some of those old skills.