Monday, August 31, 2015

Chris Christie's big idea

Chris Christie has announced that he would bring in the chief exec of FedEx to track Mexican immigrants the way he tracks packages.

Would it be a field day for the tattoo ink industry? Or does he just plan to surgically implant a microchip in the head of anybody with a Spanish accent?

Why I beg to differ with Charles M. Blow about Donald Trump

Exposing Trump's shenanigans and idiocy 
more often is good for Democrats
I’m a pretty steady reader of Charles M. Blow’s commentary in the New York Times. Not surprisingly, he is justifiably offended by Donald Trump’s bombastic racism, sexism, jingoism, and general effusions of hot air. 

But Blow, in an August 27th Times column, said that he was now so offended — the final offense was having Univision anchor Jorge Ramos escorted out of a press conference for asking questions Trump didn’t want to hear — that Blow would no longer cover Trump.  Blow wrote of Trump:
“We can’t say he’s not serious and then cover him in a way that actually demonstrates that we are not serious. 
“Is he an easy target for righteous criticism? Of course he is. But is he aware that criticism from the mainstream media is invaluable among certain segments of the political right? Of course he is. Is he also aware that he’s getting more free publicity for being outrageous than he would ever be willing to buy? Of course he is. 
“The media is being trolled on a massive scale and we look na├»ve and silly to have fallen for it, even if he draws readers and viewers. When people refer to the press as the fourth estate, it shouldn’t be confused with a Trump property.”
Here’s where I disagree about covering Donald Trump, even though he is nothing more than an odious gasbag, a buffoon with an overstuffed ego and a mouth that deserves to be washed out with soap.

The best thing that could happen for Democrats would be for Trump to somehow get the Republican nomination. The latest poll, taken in Iowa the day before I’m writing this, shows that Trump has 23 percent of the  vote, reports the Des Moines Register. Ben Carson, gaining support, has 18 percent. Everybody else in the Republican clown car is in single digit territory. 

Great. May the biggest clown win, shutting out the so-called “serious” and “conservative” candidates who, if they win the election, have the competence and political machinery to do the most damage to everything from race relations, to the American worker, to the middle class, and to working conditions in thousands of American workplaces. (See, for example: Scott Walker.)

True, Trump is repugnant. Trump is  not only repugnant to Democrats. He is repugnant to undecideds. He is evidently repugnant even to a substantial number of Republicans. His nomination for President on the Republican ticket would almost certainly assure a Democratic win. 

More, not less press exposure, may eventually get a majority of Republicans to nominate him and vote for him in the Presidential elections. But a mere majority of Republicans is still a minority of voters. And the same exposure that raises Trump's favorability rating among the far right will lower it everywhere else.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Justice Louis D. Brandeis. The best way to disinfect America is to shine a bright spotlight on Donald Trump.

Friday, August 21, 2015

News from the loose screw department of the flapping right wing

Dudley Brown thinks THEY
are coming from the UN to 
take your guns away

There must be some new screws loose out there on the leading edge of the far right wing. 

I mean, why else would they send me the news, some of it SHOUTING LIKE THIS IN CAPITAL LETTERS!  


The message is  that now there's not only an Obama plot to take away everybody's gun, but that it also happens to be an "international" plot. I gather that it's bubbling around somewhere in the bowels of the UN Building. Or somewhere international.

I mean, you can't make this stuff up. That is, you can't make it up unless you're Dudley Brown. I quote from an e-mail I've just received from his organization. It's called NAGR, the National Association of Gun Rights, and it warned me in a headline that this was a "Final Notice"

"International Gun Registry. 
"In our Friday staff briefing, NAGR President Dudley Brown painted a bone-chilling picture of what could be the new reality for gun owners.
"You see, the prospect of President Obama getting the last laugh on gun control grows ever more likely -- especially since the Obama administration has already signed the United States into the U.N.'s "Small Arms Treaty! 
"That's why in order to fight back, NAGR is launching a MASSIVE "BANNER BOMB" PROGRAM 
"If we can hit our goal of raising $150,437 by August 20th, NAGR staff will blanket the Internet with a hard-hitting digital ad campaign to put pressure on U.S. Senators to OPPOSE Obama's gun-globalist agenda 
"All across the country, your National Association for Gun Rights is gearing up to EXPOSE every horrific provision of the United Nations' "Small Arms Treaty." 
"Will you make an IMMEDIATE CONTRIBUTION of at least $11 right now to help NAGR put pressure on our targeted U.S. Senators? 
"With your help, we can reach our $150,437 goal and run our "Banner Bomb" program to TURN UP THE HEAT on our targeted U.S. Senators and flood their phone lines and town halls with patriots demanding them to support the Second Amendment and resist Obama's globalist deals. "

Oh well, I suppose it's hard to raise money when Donald Trump is sucking all the insanity out of the room. But hey, I've got an idea! How about a Trump-Brown third party ticket if Trump fails to get the Republican nomination? They could call it the Don't Grab My Gun  Party. 

Anyway, I'm about to close down for the weekend. It's too nice to sit in front of a window banging on my computer. Besides,  I have some cuckoo clocks that need working on down in the safe room, next to the canned goods and the 20,000 rounds of ammo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Is there any hope for Bernie Sanders?

Don't give up on Bernie just yet
Over at the Washington Monthly blog, Ed Kilgore administers a fairly severe beating to the
so-called Republican moderates who think they will eventually put the likes of a “Jeb” Bush  on the ticket — and thus whack The Donald back to the third hole on one of his golf courses.

Says Kilgore:
At this particular moment, Donald Trump is running better than Jeb Bush in trial general election match-ups with Hillary Clinton. You heard that right: Trump is pulling 45% to HRC’s 51%, while Jebbie’s at 43% compared to Clinton’s 52%.
The numbers don’t line up nearly as nicely for Bernie Sanders as they do for Trump. Not yet, anyway. But  the same rules that apply to Trump might apply to Sanders if the probes into “Servergate,” or whatever Republican opposition research is concocting against Hillary, have their intended effect.

It’s popular among the  press and punditocracy to say that a Sanders presidency is a laughable lost cause. All those huge crowds he draws, with minimal publicity and little campaign money? Oh, those don’t count, because, umm, Bernie can’t win. 

This may be why, unless a Black Lives Matter activist nearly grabs Bernie’s microphone from his hands, there’s so little coverage of what Bernie actually says at his hugely well-attended rallies. And why gaffers like Joe Biden (I like him, but talk about self-destructive foot-in-mouth disease!) or nonentities like Governor Whatzisname of, (is it Maryland?) get mentioned by the oh so thoughtful press, but not Sanders, whenever it looks like Hillary might go under.

But don’t write off Bernie so fast. If Hillary flounders, his momentum will pick up. And given that this could be a populist vs. populist race, Bernie just might make more sense to populist voters.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Advice to Miss Piggy and Kermit: Watch out! Those sharks in the water aren’t ordinary Muppets. They’re matrimonial lawyers.

Miss Piggy and Kermit in happier times. Now they're food for sharks.
So I was brushing my teeth after breakfast  with the TV in the next room tuned to the CBS This Morning show. Suddenly I heard somebody — was it Norah O’Donnell or Gayle King? — announce that Miss Piggy and Kermit The Frog were calling it splitsville after 39 years of marriage.

So to hell with the work on my schedule. As soon as I sat down at my  desk, I  googled the big news of the day. Good Lord! “About 3,860,000 results,” in .51 seconds, Google informed me, rolling out an overwhelming list of publications carrying the nearly identical story, from Newsweek to Jewish Business News

Of course, when so many of the stories are just about word-for-word the identical, you begin to wonder whether our trusted news media these days are simply printing press releases instead of actually reporting the news. But that’s a matter for a different blog post.

The last long goodbye kiss isn't to each other.
It's to the money you've worked and scrimped for.

I think I’d better warn Kermit and Miss P: the minute the lawyers take over, you can kiss a substantial portion of your fortunes goodbye. Both of you.

Is this Miss Piggy's divorce lawyer?
I’ve seen it happen to far too many friends. And to me, personally. The lawyers aren’t there to get you quickly and economically divorced, with a fair deal for both of you. The lawyers are there to milk you dry.

They’ll play with your emotions. They’ll get you worked up by telling you what rotten things your spouse is doing to screw you. Between you and me, they know this because both lawyers are doing the same thing.

As for your hapless spouse, she or he is  simply trusting his or her matrimonial lawyer, who is also orchestrating as much conflict into the situation as possible. And the lawyers play the same games with regularity. In fact, they’ll probably have a good laugh about you over martinis at the next convention of the Matrimonial Lawyers Association. 

“From Day One, both lawyers usually know to the penny what a case should settle for,” an attorney in my family once confided. “Then they keep the case going for as long as they can, because as long as it goes, it’s generating $400, or $500, or $650 an hour for them, or whatever they’re charging.”

Let the skinning alive begin

And rest assured, the lawyers will get their money. If they fight as fiercely as they know how, it won’t be for you. It’ll be for the right to skin you alive. A case in point, from the New York Times some years ago:
Broad guidelines intended to protect divorcing clients from being exploited by their lawyers have set off an acrimonious debate in New York State over whether lawyers should be held to the kind of consumer regulations that other businesses must abide by. 
Lawyers and bar associations have expressed such anger over the rules that Judge E. Leo Milonas, the state's top administrative judge, has modified some of them and put off implementation till the end of this month. Even with the changes, the rules still amount to the toughest in the country. 
A client, for example, is to be given written guidelines that explain new rights like binding arbitration in fee disputes. Divorce lawyers are banned from having sex with clients, from demanding nonrefundable retainers, and from foreclosing on mortgages to get paid. In one hard-won modification, however, lawyers no longer have to advise a client how to file a grievance against them.
…the matrimonial bar was vociferous in its opposition to the rules. Indeed the matrimonial law committee of the Nassau County Bar Association voted to file a lawsuit if major provisions were not changed.
There you go. I mean, heaven forbid lawyers should be banned from having sex with their vulnerable and emotionally fragile clients in a time of personal crisis. Or from foreclosing on your house. How the hell is a matrimonial lawyer supposed to get laid? Or get overpaid? Maybe he should slip something into his client's drink.

But back to that Times story. It turns out that matrimonial lawyers don't pity you, their clients. They pity themselves.
"What other kind of lawyer regularly gets this kind of aggravation?" said Sanford S. Dranoff, president of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "One Christmas morning I got called to the police station because my client refused to take the bowl of spaghetti off his head till I walked in.”
O, the poor baby! In the first place, Dranoff , now deceased, was Jewish, so Christmas wasn’t such a big deal for him. In the second place, there was no law compelling him to come to the police station. (But do you suppose he billed his client for it?)  In the third place, the story is totally irrelevant to the issue of lawyers treating their own clients unethically. But it does tell us a lot about a matrimonial attorney's willingness to mock his own client.

For years, matrimonial lawyers were signing up female clients, then slapping liens on their homes. And the best defense Dranoff could come up with was that a male client of his had a bowl of spaghetti on his head?

Heed this warning

Miss Piggy, you seem to have been the initiator of this case. So I think I’d better warn you, Miss Moi, that you're about to get financially slaughtered for money.  Plus be very careful of your attorney’s sympathetic arm around your shoulder. 

Kermit, poor guy, if you think it isn’t easy being green, wait until you see how it is when the matrimonial lawyers skin the green right off your back.