Random Thoughts on Friday Morning

Friday musings

Joe and Donald John: threats and a fist-fight — c’mon guys. Haven’t you outgrown this stuff yet? What’s next . . . a contest to see who can piss the farthest?

Friday headlines

SoCal rainstorm: two-and-a-half days of heavy rain with evacuations. For us it was about 18 hours of intermittent showers, very little of it heavy, but, at least, I didn’t have to water the lawn this week — and the gardener was able to squeeze in a lawn mowing Thursday morning.

Trump gets bipartisan support for China tariffs (LA Times headline): DJIA down 700+ points.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) plans to reduce nicotine in cigarettes and will look at menthol and other flavors that entice young people to smoke. Huh? Tobacco companies spent $5 million on politicians in the last election cycle — 84% going to Republicans. What’s with this? Could it be that FDA Commissioner Gottlieb (a former vaping company board member) is trying to give Big Tobacco a helping hand into a new market for electronic cigarettes and new addictions?

O.C.’s plan for the homeless seems to be falling apart: Really? Did District Judge Carter and the Board of Supervisors really think that HB, Irvine and Laguna Niguel were quietly going to allow them to set up camps for the homeless — hundreds/thousands of homeless — within their boundaries without some opposition?

Trump signs $1.3 trillion budget bill: $1,300,000,000,000 (I think that’s the right number of zeros.) — That’s about $4,000 for every man, woman and child in this country — I think. “Glad” my wife and I paid for several people other than ourselves. Hope Trump did too — I’d still like to see his tax returns.

Violence

Protesters take to freeway, arena over killing of unarmed black man / Video shows woman’s fatal shooting by police officer: One was armed with a cellphone and the other a knife. Since when do we teach our police that a gun is the weapon of first-resort? Aren’t there other ways to arrest and disarm people without shooting them? Must armed violence always be the answer? No, just no, no, NO!

“Reality” TV

McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump’s national security adviser: a reality TV celebrity with a reality TV news commentator as his security adviser — well, I guess it had to happen sometime. I just hope the script writers are better prepared than they were for the original shows.

Witch hunt

Legal shake-up in Trump team may suggest shift in strategy: hmmmm . . . maybe Trump has logically decided that since there was no collusion with Russia neither Mueller nor anyone else will find evidence against him — because it just doesn’t exist. If he just ignores the investigation, when they finally admit that Mr. Trump was right all along, Donald John can just laugh and say, “I told you so.”

Kids today

Balancing homework and changing the world: Parkland, FL students with a “real-life” lesson in civics. Hmmm . . . do civics classes still exist? Do they teach that with rights come responsibilities? And that that goes for supporters of the Second Amendment as well as for those of the First?


Note: the above headlines were taken from today’s LA Times and OC Register.

Note 2: On TV screen — Roseanne returns in 4 days — gods, talk about being bereft of ideas.

Guess Who? -- 1977 -- probably not taken on a Friday
Guess Who? — 1977

What has happened to the Republican Party?

As I look at our Republican President I’m really rather gobsmacked at his (alleged) behavior and our reactions to it.

First, let us take his congratulations to Putin regarding his re-election. Can you imagine Eisenhower doing this? Especially with all of the questions regarding (alleged) election tampering? And using nerve gas to assassinate people in England?

How about either Eisenhower or Reagan thinking that it is a good idea to have a President-for-Life in the US?

Or, perhaps, we should replace Mr. Trump’s name with that of Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan or Bush in one of the stories revolving around sex life?

From today’s LA Times:

President (Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan or Bush) faced new legal and political jeopardy Tuesday as a former Playboy Playmate and alleged paramour sued to break a confidentially agreement and a judge rejected his move to quash a lawsuit stemming from a charge of sexual assault.

or

In three separate lawsuits, he (Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan or Bush) is accused of sexually mauling a former contestant on . . .  his show set in a corporate boardroom, and paying money to hush two alleged lovers, the former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, 46, and pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, 39.

Can you imagine Mr. Reagan — “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” saying: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, . . .”

No, just no, no, NO!

None of these men, nor the Democrat Presidents during my lifetime, were, or are perfect. Some of them were good presidents and some of them not so good. Some were/are good human beings, some not. Some I admired and others not.

But, I believe that each of these men, even Mr. Nixon, put service to his country above personal considerations. I do not believe that this is true of Mr. Trump.

Plutocracy

I believe that like Marcus Licinius Crassus, Donald John Trump is an opportunistic billionaire plutocrat intent only on aggrandizing himself and his fortune. He is not interested in what is good for America or Americans. He is not concerned with the welfare of others only himself. He treats those not of his social, economic or ethnic class as lesser beings.

Crassus and Trump
Crassus and Trump

This also seems to be true of much of the current Republican leadership.

Here in California the Republican Party is rapidly becoming an irrelevancy. If things continue as they are, this will continue to its logical conclusion in both California and the rest of the nation . . . and the Republican Party will go the way of the Whig Party — which last elected a president in 1848, Zachary Taylor.

. . . and we’ll end up with a super-majority Democratic Party and a number of minor parties unable to mount any sort of credible opposition to the Democrats in Congress, much less, elect a President.


Note: If the above seem unduly pessimistic, Zachary Taylor was elected President in 1848 and the Whig Party was dissolved in 1854 — just six years later.

Note 2: No, I didn’t forget Mr. Ford; he was not elected to the Presidency and succeeded to the Presidency with the resignation of Mr. Nixon.

The First Commandment

The First Commandment

Exodus 20: 1-3 (KJV)

And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

The Golden Calf
The Golden Calf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Picture updated to load properly.

The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 3

The Right to Bear Arm = Politics = Money

Money and Politics are not so strange bedfellows. In fact, money is the lifeblood of politics going back to the time of the Caesars and before.

You have, of course, heard of the term “bread and circuses.” In ancient Rome the votes of the plebeians were openly purchased by offering food, drink and entertainment. Julius Caesar was a “man of the people” and spent lavishly on purchasing their votes.

Want to run for Congress today? Prepare to have to raise and spend more than one and a half million dollars. For the Senate? More than ten million dollars.

Why is it so costly? Competition.

Each candidate wants to accomplish something and runs against others who want to do the same thing, the opposite thing or something in between. And thinks that he, or she, is the best person for the job.

And, of course, they want the benefits, power and prestige that go with the job.

But how does one get the money that running for office entails? Why you ask people and organizations, including corporate entities, to donate to your campaign.

Why would these people and organizations donate to your campaign? They would donate to you because they believe that you support their agendas or that you will at least listen to their concerns and possibly change your current views to something more in keeping with what they desire.

They are not going to contribute to you if you oppose their agenda and show no signs of being persuadable.

You aren’t going to spend money in a market for food that tastes bad to you.

People and organizations are not going to donate money to candidates who tend to speak and vote contrary to what the organization wants.

You expect your investment banker to listen to your desires and accomplish your goals. If he doesn’t, you stop paying him and find someone else.

If a candidate, or officeholder, does not listen to or vote for the items on the agendas of the people who donate to him, he loses their support and donations.

The people and organizations that donate to political candidates and officeholders believe, or, at least to me, seem to believe that they have purchased the candidate or officeholder — or, at least, their votes.

Do you donate to political candidates or to their parties? Do you continue to donate to them if they vote against, or refuse to vote in favor of, the things you believe in?

How much do you donate? A dollar or two on your federal tax return? Ten dollars? A hundred dollars? A thousand dollars? Enough money so that the candidate you donate to actually knows who you are and what your beliefs are?

Hmmmm . . .

Well, maybe I’ve got news for you.

The National Rifle Association contributes millions of dollars to candidates running for the United States Congress and Senate.

Do you think the NRA spends this kind of money on candidates who favor gun control?

Do you think the NRA fails to make its position clear to those on whom it spends its money?

Do you think that the candidates who accept money from the NRA, and like minded organizations, are unaware that if they vote for gun control legislation that the NRA will withdraw their monetary support from that candidate (or officeholder) and will instead spend that money on a rival candidate?

U S Commentary Flag Casualty List
Thoughts and Prayers are NOT Enough

Purchasing Power of the NRA — the spending of money to buy the support and votes of candidates and officeholders who oppose gun control legislation and their attempts to defeat and vilify those who seek stricter gun control laws.

 

Plutocracy

Now, you may believe me to be a cynic (which I am) and you may believe that my beliefs as expressed above are nonsense, or at least carried too far.

I, however, believe myself to be a realist. Human nature has not changed in the two millennia since Julius Caesar rose to dominance in the plutocracy that was ancient Rome.

Rome was never a democracy or republic as we were raised to understand the terms. It was a plutocracy, and a militarized one at that, dominated by wealthy families of the patrician class; the plebeians had almost no political say and what they had was virtually limited to lip service.

Today, except in name, we live in a related type of plutocracy. We elect to office professional politicians who, once elected, may never again hold what most of us think to be a real job. (When they retire, they get jobs with the industries they regulated while in office. Think they voted against industry wishes?) They also vote on their own salaries, medical benefits and retirement packages and often exempt themselves from regulations and laws that apply to the rest of us.

Hmmmm . . . maybe we should call them politricians? But, I digress . . .

The NRA is spending, and has spent, millions of dollars on politicians who support its views:

In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump—and another $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton. That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race.

Lifetime donations

The following numbers come from the New York Times:

John McCain — $7,740,521

Richard Burr — $6,986,620

Roy Blount — $4,551,146

Thom Tillis — $4,418,012

Gary Gardner — $3,879,064

Marco Rubio — $3,303,355

Joni Ernst — $3,124,273

Rob Portman — $3,061,941

Todd Young — $2,896,732

Bill Cassidy — $2,861,047

French Hill — $1,089,477

Ken Buck — $800,544

David Young — $707,662

Mike Simpson — $385,731

Greg Gianforte — $344,630

Don Young — $245,720

Lloyd Smucker — $221,736

Bruce Poliquin — $201,389

Pete Sessions — $158,111

Barbara Comstock — $137,232

Bought and Sold

If you believe that these people, and others supported by the NRA and like organizations and individuals, are going to enact meaningful reform related to firearms, you have a great deal more faith in the goodness of human nature than my sixty-eight years have given me.

Politicians are bought and sold. They vote in the interests of the money that bought and paid for them — maybe, with the exception of short-lived politicians like Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith. But that was fiction wasn’t it?

We aren’t going to get meaningful reform related to firearms until we elect politicians who will support that reform and that takes money. Those of you who want reform are going to have to reach into your pocketbooks and wallets and write checks to buy, er . . . elect, politicians who will vote to enact that reform.

Otherwise, we’ll just keep on moaning and whining as mass shootings keep occurring and our children keep dying.

Do It!

Contribute to the campaigns of those who will vote for reform.

Vote for reform candidates.

Make your views known to those who hold political office.

Remember, you are the instrument of change. Someone else is not going to do it for you.


Gun laws around the world


Plutocracy

The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 2

Arms — AR-15

In response to a Facebook post by a friend of mine involving the AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle I looked up the price of such a weapon.

The closest place I know of to purchase firearms and ammunition is a Turner’s Outdoorsman store about a mile and a half from my house. I looked at their online site and found this: ATI Milsport AR-15 5.56MM Keymod / 16″ Barrel Burnt Bronze w/10 round mag = $549.99.

Including local sales tax that brings the price of the weapon to $598.11 — without ammunition — so let’s say $600 for the rifle.

A 20 round box of ammunition could cost as little as $9.99 + tax or about 50¢ per bullet.

So, for about $710 you could get a semi-automatic AR-15 and 200 rounds of ammunition.

Additional 10 round magazines sell for $14.99.

By my calculations that gives a person an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, 200 rounds of ammunition, and a sufficient number of ammunition clips to hold said ammunition for under $1,100.

And that person only needs to be 18 years old.

To own and drive an automobile a person needs to:

  • Have a driver’s license, having first passed both written and practical tests;
  • The car must be registered;
  • The car must be insured.

To own and shoot a rifle a person needs to:

  • Pass a written and practical test to have and use a rifle?
  • Register the rifle?
  • Have insurance for the rifle?

Remember the statement: guns don’t kill people; people kill people?

If this is true, why do we equip our soldiers with guns? Why don’t we, and other nations, just send the soldiers? Why equip soldiers with expensive weapons when people kill people not guns?

Could it be that nations and soldiers are not blinded by political rhetoric; that they realize the reality of the situation — that guns kill people, lots and lots of people.

Final thought: after the initial cost, what is a life worth? About 50¢ — now that’s purchasing power.