Blogus clarkensis: Just a few observations and the occasional modest proposal. If you'd like to participate write to me
. If it gets weird, consider that weird attracts search engines, and the site is really a test of search engines and of our system features.
(Many images can be clicked for a larger version.)
...where you saw that face before.
In what universe is turning over unfettered control of the Internet to ISP and telecomm giants consistent with the core objectives of the US government, namely " to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."?
You can still make a difference. The FCC, following the lead of their industry-tool chairman, will vote to protect corporate power and to screw you on Thursday, Dec. 14. Write your congressional representatives NOW! (https://dearfcc.org) It is VERY important that you write a personal message in the comment section; otherwise your message will be ignored as a bulk mailing. Say something about how you expect the proposed changes will harm you or your community (they will).
NEED EVIDENCE? Check out the latest Comcast ad that just arrived in my email, no doubt in anticipation of the end of Net Neutrality. The headline "What to Watch" is a harbinger of their future posture, in which there will be no other choice.
The “hadith” is a body of commentaries on Muslim life by writers from early Islamic times to the present. The following interesting passage is from Mishkat, Kitab al-Ilm, Chap. 3. (The Book of Knowledge, Ch. 3.)
“[A time will come when] there will be nothing left of knowledge. People will make the ignorant their leaders and will seek guidance from them in matters of religion. These leaders will issue (edicts) without any knowledge. They will themselves be misguided and will lead others astray.”
It would appear that all claims to the contrary, the present administration is fulfilling the expectations of the 12th Century author.
I cannot be the only one who has realized Donald Trump has incriminated himself.
Headline: “Trump tweets from motorcade he fired Flynn for lying to Pence, FBI.” (Chicago Tribune
). See also accompanying “Tweet” from Dec 2.
This appears to be prima facie evidence from Trump’s own tiny fingers that he knew of Flynn’s lies to the FBI well before they were publicly documented.
Supposedly the FBI discovered the lies in the summer, and Flynn’s guilty plea became public only last week. If Trump knew in February and did not reveal his knowledge, he clearly participated in a conspiracy to cover up Flynn’s crime. Both ignorance and knowledge of a fact cannot simultaneously be true.
The problem with lying, to the FBI or to the nation, is that one cannot keep the lies straight. In this case, Trump cannot have known in February that Flynn would lie to the FBI later in the spring or summer. So either he knew in February that the lies were coming — a clear indication of conspiracy — or he made up his prior knowledge yesterday. Either way, he either was or is a liar.
Somewhere south of the Rio Grande in the Age of Enlightenment there once lay a vortex that sucked some revolutionaries into a desire to be petty kings, decorated with ribbons and epaulets, leaving their progeny with a legacy of constant turmoil and perpetual economic inequality, while others remained outside the event horizon and bequeathed only imperfect freedom. Sadly, descendants of the former often blame descendants of the latter for their problems. Yagottawonder.
Writing on Facebook, Kate Riffle Roper wrote on July 19, 2016, the following description of her life as mother of a multi-racial family. We all need to take this lesson to heart. I freely acknowledge that for almost 75 years I've been subjected to propaganda intended to predispose me and those like me not to care about those who are not like me. It's not always easy to sort out one's feelings or to recognize behavior or utterances that may hurt rather than help. We just have to keep trying to do as nearly all the world's philosophers and teachers have urged and see everyone as deserving of the same kindness we expect for ourselves.
Ms Roper's message:
As a white mother of two black children, three white children, who all have a white father, I have something to say.
Racism exists. It is real and tangible. And it is everywhere, all the time.
When I brought my boys home they were the cutest, sweetest babies ever. Wherever we went, people greeted us with charm and enthusiasm. Well, not all people and not everywhere. But, to me, they were the “wacko” exceptions. I thought to myself, “Get over it.”
Now my boys look like teenagers. Black teenagers. They are 13. Let me ask you these questions.
Do store personnel follow your children when they are picking out their Gatorade flavors? They didn’t follow my white kids. Do coffee shop employees interrogate your children about the credit card they are using to pay while you are in the bathroom? They didn’t interrogate my white kids.
When your kids trick-or-treat in, dressed as a Ninja and a Clown, do they get asked who they are with and where they live, door after door? My white kids didn’t get asked.
Do your kids get pulled out of the TSA line time and again for additional screening? My white kids didn’t.
Do your kids get treated one way when they are standing alone but get treated a completely different way when you walk up? I mean a completely different way. My white kids didn’t.
Do shoe sales people ask if your kids’ feet are clean before sizing them for shoes? No one asked me that with my white kids. Do complete strangers ask to touch your child’s hair? Or ask about their penis size? Or ask if they are from druggies? No one did this with my white kids.
Did you tell your kids not to fight back because they will seen as aggressive if they stand up for themselves? Have you had to honestly discuss with your husband whether you should take your children to the police station to introduce them to the officers so they would know your children are legitimate members of your community?
Have you had to talk to your children about EXACTLY what to say and not to say to an officer? Have you had to tell your children that the objective of any encounter with police, or security in any form, is to stay alive? It never occurred to me to have these conversations with my white children. In fact, it never occurred to me for myself either.
There is no question that my boys have been cloaked in my protection when they were small. What I did not realize until now is that the cloak I was offering them was identification with my whiteness. As they grow independent, they step out from my cloak and lose that protection. The world sees them differently. It is sweet when they are adopted little black boys so graciously taken in by this nice white family. But when they are real people? Well, it is not the same. And they still look like little boys. What happens to them when they look like the strong, proud black men I am raising?
The reason why the phrase All Lives Matter is offensive to black people is because it isn’t true. Right now, in America, my black children are treated differently than my white children. So when you say All Lives Matter as a response to the phrase Black Lives Matter you are completely dismissing the near daily experience of racism for those with pigment in their skin, curl in their hair and broadness of their nose.
I am posting this so you can see the reality I have witnessed and experienced, because, frankly, I didn’t believe it was true until I saw it up close, directed at two souls I love, over and over again. So, please, use this post as a pair of glasses to see the racism that surrounds you. Then we can actually make progress toward all lives being valued and cherished.
If you succumb to the "need" to ask the above questions, you are part of the problem. Wouldn't you rather be part of the solution?
The idea that abandoning our national affordable care system and turning over health systems policy to the states will resolve the fiscal crisis in our nation is absurd. Simple demographics make it a bad idea.
With the exception of age-related maladies such as senile dementia and a few others, illness strikes in ways that are best understood as random. Almost no state has a population whose age distribution, ethnic mix, income, education, etc., closely mirror the national equivalents. Thus it is entirely predictable that the distribution of illness in some states will overload specific forms of care while in states with younger, healthier populations, medical services will abound and may be surplus or squandered.
Consider two hypothetical states A and B. A is in the rust belt, and its population is relatively old due to the decline of traditional industry and economy and consequent out-migration of young people, who take their earning power and their children (AKA future earners) with them. B is experiencing rapid in-migration its modern economy is creating new wealth and infrastructure that will continue to expand for decades.
A will likely be unable to provide adequate services to its population based on some national average block grants; it will be unable to pay for home care or even common services. It will be forced to raise the share of costs that must be borne by the individual, leading to increasing poverty. Parents will be obliged to pause before seeking care for their children’s injuries or minor illnesses, leading to long-term health consequences that will further unbalance the system. Certain high-cost medical procedures and specialties will become unavailable. Although it is purported that “choice and options” will increase, the real choice will be between medical care and other essentials, with the only option being relocation. Yet because the majority of A’s citizens’ wealth is tied up in their homes and their income is tied to declining local industry for which they were trained long ago, relocation is not a viable option.
B’s citizens, in contrast, will never have had it so good, at least for a while. Their economic and demographic advantages will mean that no one will have to pause before seeking care. Cosmetic surgery and other non-essential specialties will be growth industries; noses and breasts will be reshaped and augmented in every village and town. Medical specialties and procedures now unavailable in A will be a net revenue producer for B, leading to further outflow of A’s wealth and thence to further decline it A’s ability to finance health care. Medical training will continue to migrate to large, rich states, while small, poor states struggle to buy aspirin and adhesive bandages.
These effects will also operate at the local level. Poor counties will get poorer; rich ones will get richer; this will be most apparent in large states like California, Texas and Florida at one end and in Michigan, Mississippi and the Great Plains at the other.
Today we’ve learned that the “(R)eject and (R)egress” effort in Congress has failed again. Good news, but have no doubt they’ll be baa-ack one day soon. Beware!
Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress © 26 Sep 2017
Pres. Trump has claimed that he had no pending deals in Russia after the beginning of his presidential campaign. Yet consider the Internet domain trumptowermoscow.com
. It was registered in 2008 by "The Trump Organization" and has been renewed annually including three times (2015, 2016 and 2017) since the presidential campaign of 2016 began.
If indeed the project was to end before the election campaign of 2016 as Pres. Trump has asserted, why would registrants renew the related domain afterward, most recently in July 2017, through 2018? It certainly contradicts the statement that the candidate had no pending deals in Russia. It would appear that someone within The Trump Organization is at the very least hedging his bet, and as everyone knows, that "organization" is totally controlled by one person.
Two reasons for the contradiction suggest themselves: Either (a) that oft-cited, unnamed "low ranking employee who is no longer with the company" failed in his/her responsibility to cancel it, or (b) there was never any intent to abandon the project unless the presidential bid faiiled. Take your choice.
Of course there may be other possible reasons for the unnecessary renewal, such as poltergeists, an undiscovered email from Hillary or surreptitious actions by unnamed conspirators out to get The Donald.
Following is the WHOIS query —which anyone can execute— that shows the original registration and status (standard disclaimers & terms omitted). The standard terminal inquiry, which obscures the name of the registrant using a privacy device of the registrar, is followed by the public report from whoisxy.com (LINK
) which reveals the name of the registrant.
As Deep Throat might have said had he lived longer, "follow the domain."
Domain Name: TRUMPTOWERMOSCOW.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1508992055_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2017-06-28T20:25:51Z
Creation Date: 2008-07-17T20:24:44Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2018-07-01T03:59:59Z
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: 480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
Name Server: NS49.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Name Server: NS50.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form: https://www.icann.org/wicf/
>>> Last update of whois database: 2017-09-13T16:41:49Z <<<
WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Domain Name: TRUMPTOWERMOSCOW.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Registrant Name: General Counsel
Registrant Organization: The Trump Organization
Name Server: NS49.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Name Server: NS50.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
©2017 A. R. Clark
A high school friend has been commenting that proposed cost of living (COL) adjustments in pensions, social security, etc., seem to be immediately absorbed by rises in health insurance and other basic needs. Sad but true.
However, COL is meaningless without a comparison to gross domestic productivity ) per capita (GDPC). GDPC is now about $55,000/year. Of course not everyone works; GDP per WORKER (GDPW) is about $112,000 (World Bank 2016). If your family of 1-2 workers is not getting somewhere between $112K and $224K, you should be asking yourself (and your political representatives), who's getting the balance? The answer, of course, is corporate managers, successful financial speculators and the idle rich. These are political, nof financial, considerations. Unfortunately, the current political system seems to conflate the value of the person with the value of the job to enable the powerful to assert that the low earners are unworthy of a better life. Pitchforks, anyone?
Of course not all work is equally productive or valued, and one can live decently at 1/4 those numbers in the US except in the highest cost cities. Interestingly, 1/4 of GDPW turns out to be just about the $15 per hour minimum wage called for by the progressive wing of the political spectrum.
If each such worker (and all other earners) were assessed ten percent of income during working years, a pension of 1/4 of prior earnings would be easy to finance, and a modest additional personal savings plan should let even low-wage (minimum) workers have a decent retirement. It would take a generation to bring this into effect, and of course simple estimates like ten percent would need to be argued financially rather than emotionally. We have the financial strength to do such a plan; what we appear to lack is the will and the wisdom.
Almost from its founding, the US Supreme Court has been subject to political stress and strain, as successive presidents have sought to create a preference for their own views of both short and long-term issues. Recently the Senate leadership has used the requirement that it consent to judicial appointments to block or to accelerate the seating of new justices of the supreme and other courts, whether to liberalize or constrain the behavior of the courts purely for partisan reasons.
Recognizing the possibility that this might occur, the Founders’ only solution was to institute lifetime appointments to federal courts that would transcend the tenure of any given president or congress. That was in an era in which few citizens had ever left their own state, learned a foreign language, earned a university or law school diploma or indeed subjected themselves to the competitive aspects of a society of 300 million people, and when the primary criteria to be considered for a court seat were that one be adult, white, male and acceptable to the current power structure. In the modern world, that solution is inadequate and has often resulted in the appointment of relative non-entities to the Supreme Court. There are probably much better ways to manage a court system in the modern era.
Imagine a “Supreme Court System” to replace the current arbitrary grouping. The members of the court hearing any given case would be drawn from among a set of eligible justices on the various appellate courts -- from which many of the Supremes are now drawn anyway -- assigned at random. They need not all be in the same place, as they could share everything, both written and oral, by telecommunication, as most appellate cases are not heard but read, with oral argument being only a supplementary part of the review and often omitted. Where used, oral argument can be presented over the Internet, as was done in the recent Hawaii-based hearings on travel restrictions.
There are currently 169 members of the appellate circuits. If that number were increased, let’s say to 200, or even doubled, there would be adequate judicial time to hear the cases now before the Supreme Court (only a tiny minority of cases are ultimately resolved by the SC). Each case could be examined by a group of nine selected randomly (or perhaps five or seven for cases not involving constitutional or other truly national issues) from among the 200. For quality control, if necessary, eligibility for SC cases could be limited to the senior half of the appellate justices, whereby the qualifications of the justices on any given case would be at least comparable to the current politically selected jurists. Randomization effects would diminish partisan influence.
This approach could also make more cases suitable for SC review, giving both fairness and finality to many cases now declined by the SC. The SC could also be extended to a full work year; the current arrangement is determined in part by the awful summer weather in DC, which should hardly be part of a decision process that can involve life and death.
The Constitution does not prohibit such a change. It would be well within the law to change the role of the Chief Justice to one of administration and assignment of the five, seven, nine, etc., justices to individual cases (the Constitution leaves rules of court structure and management to Congress). The cost of the courts might rise somewhat, but the increased efficiencies and the reduced time and travel required of litigants, lawyers and judges would offset much of the increase, and litigants would be more likely able to get on with their lives. The suggested changes would also in a heartbeat increase the probable socioeconomic diversity of the members of the court hearing any given case, making the justices more like peers than superiors of the litigants.
Such a change should be acceptable across political lines. Both conservatives and liberals have been heard to complain about decisions being made in “far off Washington DC” that could be made closer to the action.
We are not well served by the current politically charged court. It is time to review the implementation of Article III of the Constitution and bring the Supreme Court into the 21st Century.
Copyright © 2017 A. Rees Clark
From our Irony Department: (Steve) Scalise has sponsored and cosponsored legislation protecting citizens' right to keep and bear arms. In the 112th Congress, Scalise introduced H.R. 58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which improves law-abiding citizens' ability to purchase firearms. The bills Scalise has recently cosponsored include National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, H.R.822, which would ensure national reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders. Congressman Scalise's pro-gun stance has earned him an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.
Estimated median income per household in 2017 in the US is $58,000.
The national poverty line (PL) is about $24,000; 110% is $26,400. Numbers rounded up to thousands for ease of interpretation. Of course these values vary from city to city and state to state.
E.g., 1: Given a minimum wage of $15/hr x 40 x 50, worker income is $30,000. PL - 30,000 < 0, so the subsidy would be zero. This family can manage on its own income.
E.g., 2: Given a single earner making $10/hr or $20,000/yr. PL - 20000 > zero, so subsidy is $7,000 or $583/mo. This family is in a world of hurt anywhere in America. If this were a family earning the median, and one relative had to provide support, that person would bear the whole $7,000 burden, which is about 12% of donor’s income.
But there are 200,000,000 working Americans. Which means that each such subsidized family costs the median household only $0.000035 per month (three ten-thousandths of a cent or essentially NOTHING!).
The number of households below the poverty line is about 11 million. Assuming they all qualify in this simple scenario for a $7,000 subsidy, what would that cost the median household? The answer is $385 per year or $32 per month or about a dollar a day or seven tenths of one percent of income.
The total cost of such a program would be about $77 billion per year. What would the recipients do with the money? They would spend it. Given standard estimates of the “multiplier effect” we would expect that outlay to generate about $400 billion in economic activity, most of which would be local. Some part of the money, or the funds liberated by the subsidy, would be taxable, so the donor class could even get some of it back in the form of lower taxes in a “trickle up” benefit that would drive supply siders berserk.
Of course this is an overly simplified scenario, but seems more productive that all 300 million of us put our minds to work improving it, not to reject the whole idea out of hand in a reactionary reflex. Several other countries are experimenting with such income guarantees, and preliminary results are positive.
I contend there is no family in America that has not within the past year made an impulse purchase of $385 that they later regretted. So why are so many so opposed to small income transfers, many even wanting to abolish Social Security?
I believe the reason is closely connected to Lyndon Johnson’s evaluation of racism, but applied to social status instead of ethnic origin. As long as A can keep B’s income low, B must come to A for help, meaning A will enjoy higher social status, based not on intrinsic worth or achievement but on an arbitrary allocation of that love of which is the root of all evil.
Here are some complaints about government you might recognize, updated and distinguished by "Ancient" and "Modern" to reflect the idea that the more things change the more they stay the same. It appears there is little to no difference between inherited monarchy and willful usurpation of authority.
The ancient "he" was George III. We leave identification of the modern "he" to you.
Ancient: Ancient: He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Modern: He has made it exceedingly easy for States to avoid enforcing Federal law, and has neglected to attend to them.
Example: Allowing states to evade low income provisions of ACA.
Ancient: He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
Modern: He has with the connivance of his political affiliates sought to disenfranchise large numbers of voters based solely on complex and irrelevant documentation of eligibility or to favor certain forms of documentation over others albeit their equivalence.
Example: Arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration rules demonstrably for the purpose of restricting voting by classes of citizens.
Ancient: He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
Modern: He has conducted the business of state at undisclosed or private and inaccessible locations, for the purposes of his persoal convenience or to obscure the existence or content of such conduct.
Example: Numerous private meetings with business associates, intermediaries and foreign government officials at his own private venues.
Ancient: He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
Modern: He has declined to nominate managers or administrators of major and lesser Federal offices and judgeships, whereby the citizens are deprived of essential Federal services.
Example: After three months only a handful of the over 500 senior officials of the Federal government subject to Senate confirmation have been nominated and/or confirmed.
Ancient: He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
Modern: He has imposed untenable conditions on the Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to accommodate migration hither; ignoring the impending natural decrease of native-born populations that will inexorably lead to social and economic decline.
Example: He has ordered or proposed numerous discriminatory barriers to entry and naturalization based on such unconstitutional grounds as national origin or religion; preferring instead to base immigration policy on economic benefit to corporations and financial manipulators.
Ancient: He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
Modern: He with his political affiliaes has failed to appoint or confirm Justices of the various Federal Courts.
Example: As of May 13, 2017, 129 of 890 judgeships are vacent, and only nine persons have been nominated and eight confirmed.
Ancient: He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Modern: He has essayed to make Judges answerable to himself on matters of law; and has impugned their legal decisions by derision or personal insult.
Example: He has denigrated numerous judges of the Federal Courts for a multitude of decisions, based solely on his personal disagreement with them, regardless of his utter lack of legal or judicial training.
Ancient: He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Modern: He has rendered certain agencies impotent by leaving key positions unfilled, by ignoring his obligation to properly adminster the government; or he has appointed administrators who lack substantive knowledge of are in fact opposed to the purpose and practices of their own agencies.
Example: A secretary of commerce opposed to the regulation of financial institutions; a secretary
Ancient: He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
Ancient: He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
Modern: He has appointed military officials to civilian offices.
Example: J. Mattis as Secretary of Defense and H. R. McMaster as National Security Advisor; though many of the security challenges we face are non-military offenses by non-state actors essentially immune to military defense and better suited control by legal or police power or international cooperation.
Ancient: He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
Modern: He has entered into unexplained relationships with foreign dictators of countries inimimcal to our national interest; providing no or little explanation of the intent of such relationships or what quid pro quo may be involved.
Example: Can you name a good reason to praise Putin, Kim, Duterte, etc.?
Ancient: He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Modern: He has charged his followers with imposing physical harm upon opponents of his personal beliefs, statements and actions during extra governmental rallies.
Example: Assaults on protesters at campaign and post-election rallies perpetrated by spoken approval of violence even against silent protesters based solely on their appearance or attire.
Ancient: ... A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Modern: There is no possible improvement on Jefferson's conclusion.
Now that we can look forward to “strict constructionists” on the Supreme Court genuflecting to “original intent,” I feel free to consider the prospect of remarriage after several decades. Allow me to explain.
When I was married the prospect of beating my wife seemed barbaric, and besides I never had reason or inclination to do so. But as long as we’re going back to the social and legal norms of 1787, it opens up so many possibilities. Back then wife beating was common and unrestricted. It was not until about 1920 that it became illegal across the country, and even those prohibitions were not strictly enforced for another fifty years.
Now instead of searching for a love match or a woman of admirable personal and professional qualities, I can expand the search and be less choosy. Candidate brides can perhaps be found in a wider walk of life. And if “she” turns out to be unwifely, unfaithful or otherwise unworthy, I can just give her what for.
The election of Donald Trump may turn out to be a godsend after all.
Another beautiful day at Mar-a-Lago.
Test MORE link: