Beancounter Tricks

As Firesign Theatre said, “And now for the rumors behind the headlines” . . . .

The movie Batgirl was abruptly canceled and the rumors are flying. One rumor claims that David Zaslav, the CEO at Warner Brothers’ Studios is eliminating wokeness in in the studio’s movies. Wokeness, as you know, applies to anything that I don’t like–and “I” refers to whosoever is expressing their opinion.

 Of course there are other explanations being bandied about the rumorverse. However, when in doubt, I apply Deepthroat’s advice from the Watergate debacle–”Follow the money!”

As the new CEO,  Zaslav wants  to cut expenses. There’s an important business principle regarding expenses in a business. If a business cuts one dollar in expenses, it is immediately reflected as one dollar on the bottom line. On the other hand, it may require a number of dollars in increased sales to add a single dollar to the bottom line. You have to account for the price the company paid for the raw materials, the labor, etc. before you realize one dollar in profits.

In other analogous words, if Marketing runs a company, it may go into bankruptcy, but emerge and be very profitable. If accounting runs a company, it will remain in the black until the last stick of furniture is sold, the lights turned out, and the door locked.

In the second rumor, Zaslav would declare Batgirl to be a failure and account for a $70 million dollar loss, thereby shoring up the bottom line. In technical terms, this is called cooking the books, grifting, or smoke and mirrors. Hollywood is famous for this–Forrest Gump reportedly paid $40 million to Tom Hank, and Bob Zemekis while Winston Groom, who wrote the book got a box of chocolates.

I was looking forward to seeing Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman. Now I’ll have to wait. Some day, when a future CEO takes over Warner, they will find that they have a ready made movie that they can release with very little cost and make a bundle.

The Good Old Days

My how things have changed: 

  • We used to buy appliances to make life easier. Now, you must wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher—and the life of that semi-useful appliance is only about 3-5 years, no matter how much you spend on it. 
  • When people got tired of walking over to the TV to change channels, the remote control was invented. Early ones worked on sound, so you could jiggle your keys and get the television to go wacko. Of course, most homes only got three to five stations, so it was no big deal. 
  • Newspapers were saved for the Boy Scouts fund raiser. We didn’t recycle and a week’s worth of trash fit in a single 30-gallon garbage can because many bottles were returned for reuse and there was nowhere near as much packaging that needed to be disposed of. 
  • Many people did their own tune-ups (i.e. changed their own oil, distributor cap and rotor, and air and oil filters each spring and each fall.) This could be done with a basic set of hand tools in a couple of hours. 
  • And, finally—NO ONE would ever have thought about asking for validation for their decisions, such as, “I grounded my son for a week because he burnt the house down. Am I an asshole?” 

Civil War History

As most of you know, I’m a history buff. I’m not talking about a photographic memory of names and dates—I’m talking about the blood, sweat, and tears that people in the past endured. For example, at some point, you may have been taught that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings in 1066, which to most of us means absolutely nothing.  

William the Conqueror was also known as William the Bastard. His victory was over Harold the Second. Harold did not have all his army with him, so William might have been referred to as “William Who-Kicks-Harold-When-He’s-Down.”  

But that’s a story for another time. 

I tend to find more recent and less distant history more appealing. Of course, since I live in Virginia, I cannot take more than a few steps before running into one historic site or another. I find it especially interesting that some field positions and fortifications left over from the Revolutionary War were reused during the Civil War—a good fighting position remains advantageous. 

I’ve read books, seen documentaries and movies, but for the past few months, I’ve been following a podcast that I highly recommend. The Civil War (1861 – 1865) a History Podcast is prepared and presented by a husband and wife team, Rich and Tracy, with their home page at civilwarpodcast.org. Rich is from Pennsylvania and Tracy is from Arkansas, so they had ancestors on both sides of the war, which presents a more or less balanced presentation. In any case, it is well done, entertaining, and educational. 

Discussing the Civil War can be contentious, especially these days. However, as Rich pointed out, “The past is a foreign land. They do things different there.” 

Currently, there are nearly 400 episodes, not counting the special episodes for members of the “Strawfoot Brigade.” If you’re a history aficionado, or just tired of doom scrolling or cable news, give this podcast a listen. 

Just When You Think It Is Safe . . . .

I haven’t blogged recently because my computer locked up. When I say locked up, I mean the entire disk was encrypted by BitLocker. Naturally, I assumed that I had been hacked by rasnsomware, but several reputable computer geeks told me that they had seen more than a few cases in which BitLocker was launched without any action by anyone. The word is that Microsoft officially denies this, but the auto-BitLocker story has supposedly leaked, In any case, experts are confident that this happens.

In an attempt to recover everything, the routine is that the computer manufacturer said to talk to Microsoft, Microsoft said to talk to the computer manufacturer, and the anti-virus people said to talk to either Microsoft or the manufacturer. Apparently none of them are speaking to one another, like a family fight where Dad says, “Tell your mother . . . .” even though his wife is sitting at the same table.

I figured the easiest fix was to just replace the SDD (software disk drive–which has replaced the hard disk drive). I ordered one, which arrived a few days later, and immediately tried to format it, which I thought would be no big deal. Naturally, it wouldn’t format. In fact, on the occasions in which Disk Manager saw the disk, it reported, “No media”, which, when you think about it makes no sense. Apparently the manufacturer of the computer or the SDD manufacturer requires a technique that is normally used with multiple disks. In any case, a friend helped me past that problem.

When I tried to reinstall the software, I hit the next problem. Now I’ve been through 24 inch disks (yes, that’s correct, but back in the 1970s), 5 1/4 inch floppy drives, 3 1/2 inch floppy drives, CDs, DVDs, and BluRay disks. Floppy drives disappeared years ago and a few years back, notebook computers stopped including optical (CD/DVD/BluRay) drives.

I used a thumb drive to reload the operating system, but for some reason the computer could not connect to my WIFI. No problem, I naively thought, I’ll just take it upstairs and connect it to the router via cable. Unfortunately (you know what’s coming), newer notebooks no longer can be connected to a cable.

In any case, after going through a variety of backup plans, I finally got the computer up and running. My data was mainly backed up, so it has been returning a piece at a time and I’m more or less back and will be trying to blog more often.

Juris Imprudence

Donald Trump’s legal teams filled motions in 37 state and federal courts today.

Thirty-six of the courts’ clerks pointed out that Trump had no current or pending legal issues at this time and returned the documents to his legal team.

“I guess it’s become habit to keep filing motions, appeals, or requests for change of venue. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides, we don’t get paid whether we file or not,” replied the head of his legal team du jour.

In the 37th case, Trumps team had filed an injunction against another group of Trump lawyers, The clerk of that court says that he debated whether to throw the filing into a ditch in Pennsylvania or to forward it to the Jewish LASER authorities. Instead, he claims that he “accidentally” dropped it into the shredder

Political Puzzlers

As the world continues to prove its passion for insanity, I’m left to contemplate certain things:

  1. The conservatives continue to fight “Woke” philosophies. Does this mean they prefer catatonic beliefs?
  2. Should we consider those who rely on Twitter for their news to be Twits?
  3. Donald trump was famous for not reading. He didn’t read his daily intelligence briefings and may have read very little during his life. What is he going to do with thousands of pages of documents that should have been sent to the National Archives? (Having dealt with government documents, I can personally assure you they are dry as toast to  read.)
  4. According to history, the Rus (later called the Russians) began in Kyiv, Ukraine. Wouldn’t this mean that that Ukraine has a legitimate claim that it is Russia that is a breakaway portion of Ukraine rather than the other way around?

American Political Turmoil Explained

We tend to categorize our politicians primarily as progressive or conservative, with moderate as an adjective (moderate Republican or moderate Democrat). Independent was added as a catchall for anyone else. However, since Independents normally have not signaled their intentions regarding who or what they will vote for they represent the swing voters.

Conservatives seem most comfortable with the status quo—leave things the way they are. Does a particular policy work? Leave it alone. Does it work, but not very well? Leave it alone. Does it not work? Leave it alone because you can make things go from bad to worse. When in doubt, leave it alone. Conservatives want everything to be static and will invoke finances, national pride, or whatever else works to further their cause. Many Conservatives embrace the American flag, but managed to avoid military service.

Progressives want things to move forward—to make changes. If it isn’t working, change it. If it is working, but could work better, change it. Sometimes progressive ideas work and sometimes they don’t. Progressives tend to focus on social issues, which their opponents can dismiss as unnecessary and too costly. Progressives tend to have multiple flags besides the American flag—Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ Rainbow, etc.

But we often forget another category that is very important, very powerful, and getting more powerful—Regressives. Regressives want to restore “the good old days,” which have never been clearly defined. Some want the US to revert to the days of “Leave it to Beaver,” with women staying home and doing housework while wearing dresses, nylons, and high heels. Husbands ruled the roost and children were expected to speak only when spoken to. Other Regressives want to go back to the Jim Crow days or all the way back to the days of slavery. Regressives often embrace the Confederate Battle Flag, which they do not seem realize is not the flag of the Confederate States. Nevertheless, Regressives are hard pressed to name which states were in the Confederacy, who the principal players were (beyond Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee), and that slavery is promoted in the Confederacy’s Constitution.

Each group is quick to blame another (if not both) for all problems, real and imagined. There are few solutions presented, and if a solution was not generated by MY group, it is killed as quickly as possible.

I wish I could say that these thoughts will help us progress, but I strongly and sadly believe they will not.

Are we better off because of social media?

Unfortunately, the only digital media available during Lincoln’s lifetime was Morse Code.

As you know, I am not a Luddite. I have embraced technology throughout my life. I built my first computer in the 1970s because there were no commercially available personal computers. I still love building things that are electronic. Many of the magazines I read are technically oriented.

I was one of the first people on the internet, using dial up to a Cleveland University, which had 88 phone lines available to connect with the internet. Like most people, I found the whole idea exciting. As a ham radio operator, talking with people in different countries wasn’t a new experience, but through the internet I could choose groups by area of interest, which was fun. As the World Wide Web developed, it augmented trips to the library while I was in graduate school—especially attractive when my university was about 50 miles from my home and the snow was piling up fast.

But then it turned ugly.

I avoid many sites—especially Facebook and Google because they track people and collect information that I may not want to share, especially without my knowledge. I don’t have Alexa because I’ve seen too many possible examples of Alexa listening in on conversations. Is it a coincidence that when someone is talking about fishing, for example, the next time he logs in, a popup ad for fishing gear pops up on the screen?

I have seen so much wrong information without even looking for it.

To add to the confusion, many people have never developed critical thinking skills—our education system is based too much on writing on the exam the words that the teacher and/or textbook said. A photographic memory will be a blessing at school, but a curse thereafter. As more than one professor has said, “Education is the process of getting words from the teacher’s notebook to the students’ notebooks without involving either’s brain.”

Students may find a term paper online that suits their needs perfectly and turn it in as their own work. (Of course, teachers can run the text through a different web site that compares this paper with what is available online.)

Do you believe that there are Jewish space lasers controlling the world? I hope most of my readers do not.

The greatest ill from the internet is anonymity. People will write things anonymously that they never would otherwise, because there is no risk. They can be obnoxious, rude, lying, and nasty. One could say that the internet brings out the worst in people and I believe that in some—perhaps many or even most—cases that is true.

It disappoints me that our species is like this.

It’s Not My Fault!

“Mr. Omato, I’m surprised at you. Maybe I shouldn’t be, given what your colleagues say about you.

“First, you seem to have ‘forgotten’ that government employees, such as you—as a member of the Secret Service—CANNOT receive a political appointment, such as you did when you became Mr. Trump’s chief-of-staff for operations. You are a well-educated man, both from university and training required by the Secret Service. It seems highly suspicious that you just forgot that you’d be breaking the law. Not to mention that it made the Secret Service look like a bunch of political hacks.

“Now, you claim that all the text messages relating to the January 6th insurrection are missing. You know that it is your responsibility to save any and all official documents. Your responsibilities—not the IT Department, not the National Archives, not anybody else, do you understand?”

“But . . .Well, we were changing equipment, and all the text messages were lost,” Special Secret Service Agent Anthony Omato explained.

“Mr. Omato, the rumor around here is that you are an accomplished liar. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but in any case, this is not grade school.

“I’m sure back then you claimed that your dogs ate your homework, which is just as unlikely as the computer eating your official correspondence!”

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

This story has been told and retold. Benjamin Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

To which Franklin supposedly responded, with a rejoinder at once witty and ominous: “A republic, if you can keep it.

The question is, do we really want to keep it?

At the time of the American Revolution, the term United States referred to 13 separate countries that were united together for a common cause. The term United States was plural—These United States as opposed to The United States.

In December 1860, South Carolina declared that it had left the union and in April 1861, fired on the Union’s Fort Sumter, which surrendered. Some historians believe that until that attack, those in the North would have been happy to let them leave; they further state that the attack on Fort Sumter was the costliest military victory of all time.

South Carolina issued a statement explaining it’s reason for seceding. While many Southerners claim that the Lost Cause was about states’ rights, it is helpful to note South Carolina’s explanation for seceding included the following:

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.

(The entire declaration can be accessed here)

The Constitution of the Confederate States, which parallels the United States Constitution in many ways, includes the following:

Article IV, Section 2, Paragraph 3—No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs; or to whom such service or labor may be due.

Today, some fear that we may be dangerously close to another split. Perhaps it will not be as bloody as the Civil War, but the split itself will be terribly damaging and costly. Blue (progressive) States tend to be on America’s east and west coasts, while Red (conservative) States are more in the center of the continent. Like in the Civil War, the division is accompanied by, if not caused by, a difference in values. The Blue States are more developed, more industrial, and produce as much wealth as most of the world’s countries. The Red States rely more on agriculture and mining—particularly fossil fuels. Wells can be tapped out and mines abandoned. Many farms located in Red States are owned and operated by corporations based in Blue States.

In the nineteenth century, Abraham Lincoln was intent on maintaining the Union. I don’t see the sanctity of the Union being the driving force for either side if Red and Blue States separate. Of course, both daughter countries would lack any significant influence on the world stage and would be unable to stand up to any powerful nation—any powerful nation, not just Russia and China.

The upside of such a division is limited. Various American politicians would be able to thump their chests and claim righteousness to the same people who already agree with them.

The first Civil War was instigated by Southern states. If we face another division, it will be due to the influence of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. I hope they all decide to stay with the Red States.

Independence Day

John Trumbull’s painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The short, stocky man standing is John Adams. The tall man with red hair is Thomas Jefferson.

The Declaration of Independence was actually approved by the Second Continental Congress on 2 July 1776—the printed copy was not available until 4 July. At the time, John Adams predicted how Independence Day would be celebrated, relatively accurately, except he anticipated it would be celebrated on the second rather than the fourth.

“The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.

“It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Unlike the famous portrait, not every delegate signed on 4 July. Some members were attending to other business and may have signed as late as September or October. Some members of the Continental Congress never signed, but most did, including at least one who had not been a member of the Second Continental Congress. (George Washington was not a member and did not sign–he was busy fighting the British.)

Ironically, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died 4 July 1826 —the fiftieth anniversary of the first signatures on the Declaration.

Recycling?

Where I live, the city government recently decided to eliminate curbside recycling. Like many people, I’ve just come to expect that recycling is a normal part of life. I’ve had the small bins into which we sorted the recycling—paper in one, glass in another, metal cans in a third. Most recently, we had the large bins—the same size as garbage cans—which accepted all recyclables. We faithfully tried to make sure that what went into the recycling bin was bona fide recyclable.

I remember being at Disney World years ago and being told that the park benches were made of recycled milk bottles. A while back, we were told that the cardboard that we put into the bin was sent to China and would return to the USA in 6-8 weeks later as boxes containing Chinese made televisions, computers, or other products. I took both these as encouraging statements.

Today, however, there are news stories reporting that most plastics have actually never been recyclable. The oil industry, which provides the raw materials for plastics, apparently has been lying for decades to increase their profits. Our recycler announced a while back that the Chinese needed us to be more careful with our paper recycling—too many pizza boxes covered with cheese and such. This, coming from the same people who sold us contaminated baby formula, children’s toys painted with lead paint, and laptop computers with built-in hardware hacks.

So, everything is going to the landfill. Add to that the clothing that is headed there as well. This is a significant amount because as people chase fashion, the lifespan of an article of clothing gets shorter as we make room for the latest style. There are so many discarded items of clothing that second-hand stores can’t accept them all, so they go to the dump.

The packaging for products is a major contributor. Marketing experts occasionally admit that “New and Improved” often refers to the package, not the actual product. I remember when milk and soda arrived in glass bottles with a deposit. Many times in grade school, I’d find enough bottles to buy a box of pumpkin seeds or even a candy bar.

I don’t know the real numbers, but my SWAG* is that around 10 percent is real recycling and 90 percent is smoke and mirrors. Oh, well.

Now, if I could only convince Louis De Joy to have all the junk mail I find in my mailbox delivered directly to the dump and leave me out of the process.

* SWAG – Scientific Wild Assed Guess

Juneteenth

What a strange sounding name.

It’s a contraction of June and nineteenth—the day that Major General Gordon Granger was given command of the District of Texas. The Civil War was now over as of 9 May 1865.  His first action was to read to the people of Texas his General Order Number Three which began with:

The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.

Surprisingly [Satire warning] the slaveholders had either forgotten or had not yet gotten around to letting their slaves know they were—and had been—free for the previous five weeks. Ooops!

General Granger’s reading of his order fixed that.

The so-called “peculiar institution” of slavery was no more. The previously free labor from the slaves was gone, even though they could still be kept down through sharecropping and other means. Likewise, the use of slaves as breeding stock and the sale of their offspring was also gone.

For years the Jim Crow laws were intended to keep Black Americans subservient and it has taken the better part of two centuries to make any substantial progress. Nevertheless, for Black Americans, Juneteenth is seen as their independence day, and rightly so.

Author’s Note: With the current political efforts to turn the United States into a banana republic, it is more difficult to write. I make no promises as to how I will do in the future.

Putin Walks in Hitler’s Tracks

German Volkssturm members being trained to operate anti-tank weapons.

Photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J31391 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5665346

As I’ve said many times, history does not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes.

As the Soviets approached Berlin near the end of the Second World War, much of the defense was expected to be from the Hitler Youth, the very young—early to mid-teens. The Soviets had no competition from the Americans, British, etc. because to do so had a great chance of placing allies in each other’s crossfires.

The Nazis, not the Wehrmacht, created the Volkssturm (Peoples Storm) by conscripting those from 16-60 who were not already in a combat unit. With teenagers in the Hitler Youth, this left the old men. The Soviets slaughtered many while Hitler was committing suicide in the Fuhrerbunker.

Today, in similar fashion, Vladimir Putin removed the upper age limit for military service. In the meantime, a number of reserve units have apparently refused to go to Ukraine. This is not surprising for a variety of reasons, including the fact that many of those already deployed to Ukraine were not told where they were going or why.

In the meantime, Russia is sending T-62 tanks, first introduced in 1962, to fight in Ukraine. These were a modest improvement of the T-60 tanks used in World War II.

Incidentally Ukrainian military have examined many downed Russian weapons and have found common purpose (not military specific) US computer chips. With current sanctions, these are no longer available, so allegedly, they are scavenging computer chips from washing machines and other appliances.

I hope and pray that, like in the Second World War, the end of this war is near.

USA’s Bleak Future

Trump is calling for civil war. He says that Pence should have been hanged.

In the face of the latest elementary school shooting, no one seems to want to take the issue seriously. If such shootings occur as often as they have so far this year, the next mass shooting would happen tomorrow.

The Supreme Court is systematically eliminating civil rights.

The Republican Party—Forget it, it’s too painful to talk about the Republican Party.

Canada’s National Security Task Force is preparing for the collapse of the United States. Can you blame them?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/canadian-national-security-task-force-is-preparing-for-the-collapse-of-the-united-states/ar-AAXFOgj

Honor

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

                                                                                      United States Declaration of Independence

This is the last sentence, the very last words in the Declaration of Independence, the last words before the founding fathers’ signatures. This group of imperfect men risked everything for our independence. If the revolution had failed, they would have been hanged at best, but punishment for treason against the English king included being drawn and quartered. Their lives were very much at risk and they knew it. Nine died due to the war, while five were captured by the British, tortured and then died.

As to their fortunes, twelve had their homes ransacked and burned, eight had their homes looted, others were hunted by the British. A number who lived through the war died penniless.

But their honor they upheld—that’s how important it was to them.

In America, far too many of today’s leaders see honor as just a word. They unashamedly display their lack of honor on a daily basis.

Many of us have more faith in the words of Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy than the words of half the members of Congress and justices of the Supreme Court.

It is both sad and terrifying.

A Supreme Solution to Abortion

The doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Mrs. Saunders told her husband. When she got to the door, there was a police officer waiting.

“Good morning, Mrs. Saunders,” he began. “Is your husband home?”

“Do you mind telling me what this is about?” she asked.

“Just purely routine,” the officer replied. “Ah, there he is!” as Mr. Saunders came up behind his wife.

“Mr. Saunders, may I come in?”

“Do you have a warrant?” Saunders countered.

“As a matter of fact, I do, but it’s a sealed warrant. In any case, I am coming in.” He more or less herded the Saunders from the door into the living room. The officer sat in the overstuffed chair across from the couch, making it obvious as to where he expected the Saunders to sit.

“I’m Inspector Hodges from the Supreme Court,” he explained.

“The Supreme Court has police?” Mrs. Saunders asked, causing the inspector to frown.

“The Supreme Court Police were created in 1935,” he explained, “until recently it included about 200 sworn officers, but we’ve had to ramp that up a bit in light of current issues.”

The Saunders looked at one another, puzzled.

“You see,” the Inspector continued, “Setting aside the prior decision of Roe v Wade has made abortions difficult—if not impossible-for many people, especially those who are financially challenged. They have no way to provide for the children that otherwise would have . . . let’s just say not be born.

“In cases of rape, especially incest, the trauma is just too great for the mothers, so . . . .” the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” the inspector said, “I’m expecting another officer.” He opened the door and another uniformed officer entered, this one carrying a small baby.

“You see,” the Inspector continued, “Congress has addressed this issue in a most effective manner. If you remember back to the mid-twentieth century, people were conscripted into the military. The draft was an attempt to randomly pick those who were to be inducted. We use a similar system.

“All citizens who filed their income tax as ‘married’ who meet certain criteria are deemed eligible.”

“What criteria?” Mr. Saunders asked.

“Income at least twice the current poverty line with no criminal history. It’s quite simple, you see. Therefore, you two were selected to parent this beautiful little . . . .” he glanced back at the officer holding the baby who silently mouthed girl. “beautiful little girl.”

“Wait a minute,” Mr. Saunders injected. “First off, I’m 65 years old and getting ready to retire.”

“Isn’t it funny how life always interferes with the best plans of mice and men?”

“Everybody with two times the income as the poverty level? What about Trump, Bill Gates, Elon Musk?”

“Oh,” explained the Inspector, “they don’t make any income. Everything they have is retained wealth or capital gains.” He motioned to the other officer, who carried the baby over to Mrs. Saunders and set her on Mrs. Saunders’s lap. Another officer walked in with a cardboard box.

“Some disposable diapers, formula, handiwipes—you know. The rest you’ll need to buy tomorrow.” The inspector stood up, but before he and his coworkers headed to the door he turned around.

“A word to the wise,” he said. “I shouldn’t tell you this, but you might as well adjust to everything all at once. The Justices are looking for a case so they can rule that wives are subservient to their husbands, so you just might want to adjust your behavior,” he said looking directly at Mrs. Saunders. Mrs. Saunders opened her mouth to speak, but the Inspector interrupted. “You should let your husband do the talking. In good Christian families, he’s the boss.”

Death of a Republic

Thanks to Mitch McConnell and Trump, the Supreme Court has indeed become an assembly of political hacks. The leaking of a draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade has resulted in a firestorm of (un)righteous indignation.

For the record, I am not a fan of abortion, but I am a realist. It is not my place to impose my will over another person’s God given free will.

  • God gave us free will, but the Supreme Court does not.
  • Murder has been illegal for centuries, but people still kill one another.
  • Stealing has been illegal for centuries, but we still have burglaries, robberies, embezzling, etc.
  • From 1920 until 1933, drinking alcoholic beverages was illegal. Prohibition’s main legacy was to make organized crime rich and powerful, but people still drank.
  • Lying to government agents, to a court, or to Congress is illegal, but seems to be ignored.

The Trump appointees were questioned about respecting precedent—the previous rulings of the Supreme Court—and nominees Gorsuch and Kavanaugh outright lied under oath. By rights, they should be held liable for perjury.

Barrett fudged her answer by saying it was not a super precedent. A decision is either a precedent or not—it’s like death. A person is either dead or not dead; there is no such thing as super-dead. By her logic, are some laws lesser than others and breaking them means nothing?

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court neither has standards of conduct nor a moral compass as seen by Justice Thomas’s lack of ethics. It has been my experience that every government employee—civilian or military—is required to take annual ethics training. One of the key concepts is that federal employees must avoid EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR.

The Supreme Court sees itself as above the law. The last few years have seen a loss of faith in the legislative branch. Trump trashed the executive branch. I guess it was inevitable that the judicial branch would follow suit.

Finally, there are those who claim that the Constitution does not specifically authorize the right to certain things, including abortion. While that is true, our basic underlying concept is that the government receives its power from the will of the governed. A similar issue is reiterated in the bill of rights:

Ninth Amendment

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

When asked what kind of government the founding fathers had devised, Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

I guess we can’t keep it.

Politics vs Porn

Tory MP Neil Parish got kicked out of the British Parliament for watching porn on his telephone while attending Parliament. However, in my mind, that is not all of the story.

The House of Commons is rather like the House of Representatives in the United States; the House of Lords was once somewhat like the US Senate, but the US Senate is now an embarrassment unlike anything anywhere. In any case, the decorum that the British practice is somewhat laissez faire. Clapping is not allowed, but shouting is, although it often includes high and lofty terms like vainglorious. However, this does not change the fact that the House of Commons is sometimes reminiscent of a barroom brawl.

The video in the link below isn’t the most outrageous example, but you get the idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PVkR8jUSVM

If you ever watch C-SPAN, you are aware of the US Congress’s style, or lack thereof. I especially laugh when I catch C-SPAN while channel surfing. You can see politicians making speeches in the late afternoon to an almost empty chamber. I guess it proves that politicians talk to just hear themselves speak.

In any case, I would guess that many members of parliament are looking at their phones, playing games, or whatever. Parish got caught looking at porn. However, given the choice between watching the antics of his fellow politicians or watching porn, some may consider it a tough choice. Parish just forgot the 11th commandment-“Thou shalt not get caught.”

If you’d like to see a brief explanation of the British Parliament click this link. It’s only about 10 minutes, but very interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PVkR8jUSVM

Protecting a President

Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Truth is stranger than fiction. (Click for video) Monty Python foresaw this in 1971.

Many presidents actively served in wartime and were exposed to bullets, shrapnel, poison gas, or other genuinely dangerous things. George Washington commanded the Army. Abraham Lincoln not only served in the militia during the Black Hawk War, but during the Civil War, while president, he crossed the front line into confederate territory. Presidents Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush all served in wartime. In all, 33 presidents served in the military.

On the other hand, Donald Trump did not, being exempted because of alleged heel spurs. In my opinion, if he had served it might have better prepared him for life.

“Donald Trump worried that “dangerous” fruits could be flung at him by protesters, according to newly-released excerpts from his sworn deposition for an upcoming trial in New York.” https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/donald-trump-worried-dangerous-fruits-could-be-thrown-at-him-by-protesters-a-new-deposition-reveals/ar-AAWEPFf?cvid=e7b0eaff5d15449b8e681c3ff0237ae9

Thank goodness he wasn’t threatened with a pointed stick.