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Miracles do happen

As I said in a recent post, I did not intend to watch the debate, and I didn’t. However, my wife did, and while she very considerately removed her Ipad and herself to another room while she watched, I couldn’t help overhear some of it in real time. My own impression was that she was making mincemeat of him, but it remained to be seen whether the meat would be highly spiced enough for the media to acknowledge the rout.

It appears, and this really is a miracle, that it was. The media set the bar extremely low for the Donald, but instead of stepping over it, he tried to limbo under it, and it didn’t work out well for him. As many have already noted, we can now expect several days of whining about how mean the media is to him, with the future of his debate appearances in doubt. I’ve had my problems with Hillary from a policy standpoint, but I’ve never accused her of not doing her homework, and she certainly did it for this one. She played him like a fiddle. It must be hard for them, but for the most part, based on the reaction I’ve seen, with the exception of Fox, they are playing it for the disaster it was for the Donald. I guess if you come across as an ignorant, unhinged coke head, even our media has to take notice.

Speaking of low bars, a few thoughts occurred to me about the frequent media refrain that this or that candidate must merely meet media defined low expectations in order to succeed in a debate. The obvious point is that the media itself defines these expectations, with no scientifically valid input from the public. In addition, I’ve searched my own memory, and I’ve failed to come up with a single example of the expectations game being played with a Democratic candidate. So far as I can recall, Democrats are expected to win on points, with the Republican often spotted a few points (or more) by the media prior to the opening bell. Not all Republicans benefit from the expectations game, but to my recollection, only Republicans (best off hand examples: Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle) do.

I wonder why that is.

No, I really don’t.

I won’t be watching

I’ve watched most of the presidential debates over the course of my lifetime. I’ve missed a few due to other commitments. I remember, for instance, having to listen to the Quayle-Bentsen debate, of lasting memory, in the car as I drove home from something or other.

But I’ll be giving this debate a pass.

As Bill Meyers pointed out recently the entire debate process has been corrupted, but that’s only part of my reasoning.

It’s my blood pressure. It’s actually pretty good, but I don’t see any compelling reason to put it at mortal risk. Despite the Lauer debacle, you can count on the moderator letting Trump off easy, if for no other reason than that he won’t have the slightest idea how to deal with the Donald. It also doesn’t help that Trump’s been playing the refs, as Republicans always do. Trump is even more effective than the average Republican at that sort of thing.

Despite some tentative move towards cleaning up its act, the media as a whole has been setting the table to declare Trump the winner if he makes it through without totally melting down. By that standard, he might still lose, but it’s going to take a mighty effort on his part. High school debaters are expected to know what they’re talking about, but not people running for President, particularly Republicans. At this point, the Republican passes so long as it is an open question whether he is legally competent or not.

Anyway, getting back to my blood pressure, I have found from past experience that when I yell at the people in the television, they totally ignore me, so the best course of action is to let other people watch for me. For this type of thing, hearsay evidence is fine, so long as you call the right witnesses. I’ll be hitting the blogs Tuesday morning, for informed opinions about the Monday night media fail.

I’m an overachiever

Turns out, I’m a special person. Today I got an email at work, which starts out like this:

Hello John,

I am just getting in contact with regards to my previous email regarding your selection as one of AI Magazine’s Top 25 Fund Managers of the Year 2016. Would [My law firm] like to move forward with one of the below packages?

Since early 2016, our research team have been assessing a wide range of key firms and individuals from across the financial and asset management industries.

Following this initial research stage, our directors, calling upon 30 years of experience and access to a worldwide network of industry experts, carefully selected businesses that they regard as having excelled in their sector. These awards are designed to celebrate companies that offer innovative services and solutions to those in the fund management industry. AI gives you an opportunity to showcase increasingly sought after expertise that keep the wheels of your industry turning.

As one of our 2016 winners, you are free to advertise your win in any way you see fit. However, if you would like to get a head start on your promotional activity, we offer a number of editorial packages that will help you to get your firm reach more than 108,500 CEOs and top-tier professionals.

If this is something that sounds of interest to you, we have four packages available for your consideration, as detailed below, each providing varying levels of exposure for [my law firm].

Editor’s Choice £3,450

The main image on the front cover of the publication
The main headline
A double page spread and Brown Jacobson Pc will be the lead firm profiled
6-month web banner
5 crystal trophies*
Reproduction of your piece on the website

It goes on to give me some lower cost ways to advertise my fabulosity, but those are for cheapskates.

I should add that this is only one of many awards I’ve won for things that I don’t even do. (Lawyers get their very own type of junk email) In a way, maybe I am among the top 25 money managers in the world. I do manage my own money, and, unlike some money managers I’ve heard of, I haven’t crashed the economy or done lasting harm to thousands of people. So maybe I will collect my award.

It will look great right next to my diploma from Trump University.

It’s the year 2000 all over again

It’s hardly a new observation to make, but it’s a fact that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Part of the problem, I suppose, is that those who live through history die off, and are replaced by people who think, for some reason, that things are now different.

They year 2000 wasn’t that long ago, but the lesson that so many of us learned is apparently either forgotten or never learned by the “millenials” who have chosen to vote for either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. Apparently, such people exist in large numbers, perhaps large enough to throw the election to the guy promising to make America fascist.

Stein, apparently, has an almost Nader like take on the election. According to her, Hillary is the real threat because of all those bad things she will skillfully push through Congress, while Trump will be neutered by a Congress that will frustrate him at every turn. People actually believe, or say they believe this, though both sides of the equation are patently absurd. Hillary will be frustrated by a Congress controlled by the Republicans, while Trump, if elected, would cause maximum harm simply by going along with whatever the Republicans chose to pass.

It’s equally hard to see how any but a right winger would go with Johnson in lieu of Trump. Could it be, as I’ve seen speculated, that the never Hillary types are sufficiently satisfied with the nice sounding “Libertarian” name? Are there really frustrated Bernie voters who would prefer an anti-environment, anti-regulation, anti-social security, pro free-market freebooters candidate to a candidate who, at worst, will be Obama term three?

I was no Hillary fan, but I remember my frustrating attempts to talk friends out of voting for Nader in 2000. Gore wasn’t perfect either, but the world and the country would be better off had we had 8 years of him rather than 8 years of George Bush.

It is getting very scary out there. The unthinkable is becoming more thinkable every day. Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that in the end these third party voters will stop and think. We really are at a precipice. Make the wrong choice this year, and the opportunity to correct it may never come.

Stranger Mugfellows

A few months ago I shared a picture of a mug my son got me as a joke on my birthday. It featured a motley assortment of Democrats, some of whom (looking at you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz) no self respecting Democrat would want to acknowledge. I said at the time that my son and his wife couldn’t remember who was on the Republican mug, but hoped that Abe Lincoln would be spared the embarrassment of sharing space with Donald Trump.

Well, I was at the Vermont Country Store today and found the mug, and I’m pleased to say that Honest Abe’s reputation is safe, though, as it turns out, the Donald isn’t on the mug either. I didn’t buy it, but I did grab my phone and take some pictures. I’m not sure I should be pleased to say it looks like no one else bought it either. There were only one or two Democratic mugs left, but there was a whole box of Republicans. While the Democrats were indeed strange Mugfellows, the Republicans are, of course, 10 times worse, but that’s probably not why none of them sold.

Here it is, and it’s a sorry collection to be sure.

While I can’t quarrel with the selection of Joseph McCarthy, who occupies the very first panel, it’s hard to believe that many Republicans want to acknowledge the forerunner to so much of what came later. So, here’s the rest of the rogue’s gallery:

Ted Cruz
Scott Walker
Herbert Hoover
Jeb Bush
George Bush
Mitch McConnell
Marco Rubio
Richard Nixon
Rand Paul
John Boehner
Chris Christie

Surely a sadder collection of mediocrities, incompetents and criminals never before adorned a single mug. It actually makes the Democratic mug look like a collection of the truly great. There are two possible explanations. First, the choice was made by an avid Democrat who didn’t care if they sold any mugs, but just liked mocking Republicans. I think we can reject that one, because that person would also have been responsible for picking the folks on the Democratic mug, and while some of them were or are actually pretty good, the fact is that Debbie and Chuck are there, along with some other losers. The other possibility is that the mug’s makers in China asked a Chinese high school kid to put together the names of some leading Republicans, and this is what they got. That theory has my vote.

Notice who didn’t make the cut. Saint Ronnie, who we are all supposed to now believe was a great president, though he was really truly awful, and the Donald. The missing Ronnie is further evidence for the Chinese high school student, because everyone knows that all Republicans worship at Saint Ronnie’s shrine, and that they actually believe the myths they have invented about him. Here’s the explanation for the unsold mugs. No Republican is going to buy a mug full of Republicans if the guy who sold weapons to Iran is not on it.

As for the missing Donald, I guess even the Chinese high school student couldn’t believe American Republicans would be stupid enough to nominate him. But really, absolutely no one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the average Fox viewer, all of whom are Republicans.

Priorities

At the risk of beating a dead horse or two, I am going to return to a subject to which I’ve alluded in my two previous posts: the way our local Republican candidates have danced around the question of whether they support Donald Trump. Something I haven’t highlighted is one rather incredible argument they are making: that it really doesn’t matter who is elected president. Here’s what Heather Somers, our local (R-Airhead) Senatorial candidate has to say:

“Umm, well I have to say I think the most important vote that you can make in this election is actually on the state level, because what happens on the state and the local level are where we are most intimately affected and quite frankly in our house I try to say ‘keep the noise of Washington quiet’, because it’s like watching the Kardashians as far as I’m concerned.”

(Transcribed from the audio on the New London Day’s website)

That’s right. Washington is so far away! Nothing that happens there has any real effect on us, so who really cares who the president might be! What really matters is who we elect to the 18th Senatorial District, so really, the think to do is to look the other way and pay no attention to the man behind the teleprompter.

John Scott (R-Conflicted Insurance Agent) attempts to make the same point in a slightly different manner. He tries to get away with arguing that it is entirely irrelevant who he may be voting for, because the president doesn’t run the Connecticut legislature:

Scott suggested the question was unfair, and said, “So I will not directly answer the question but I will say that my position is I’m a Republican, I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative and I want a smaller government that the taxpayer of this state can afford.

In the two years I served in Hartford, there hasn’t been a day where the president of United State has had a say in day-to-day operations of our government,” he said. “I therefore feel that my endorsement or lack thereof or renouncement or whatever is not important.”

via The New London Day

The mind boggles at the awesome amount of intellectual dishonesty loaded into that statement. Is there really any point to unpacking it? There must be a hundred ways, at the very least, that actions in Washington affect the state of Connecticut and the legislative choices state legislators have to make. I mean, John’s first act as a legislator was proposing a bill that would deprive students of federally available medical benefits so they would have to buy insurance from him. Anyway, it’s passing strange that a guy who is applying for a political job from us citizens tells us during his interview that questions about his political opinions are none of our business. This from a guy who ran his first campaign by smearing his opponent’s personal life, which was somehow, I guess, more relevant than John’s political beliefs. And, of course, the reason why John won’t tell is because, contrary to what he says, his “endorsement or lack thereof” is important. Important to him. He needs the cretin vote to win, so he can’t afford to throw it away by putting the interests of the country first.

So, two variations on a theme.

I really feel sort of sorry for Dave Collins, over there at the Day. When he announced his Trump test, I really think he had a sort of touching faith that our local Republicans were somehow different in kind from their national brethren, who have used bigotry since 1968 to harvest votes from the yahoos, all in service to the .01%. You’d think it would be hard to get people to vote against their own interests, but the Republicans have made it look easy for years. Now the yahoos have taken over, and Republicans like Heather and John have no choice but to protect their right flank. If that means disappointing Dave Collins, then so be it.

Colllins probably never imagined that almost every Connecticut Republican asked the question would come up with a way to change the subject, but change it they must, or risk losing the votes of the deplorables upon whom they depend. Now the poor guy is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He either abandons his Trump test, or consigns each and every Republican candidate to eternal damnation. For a shill with sterling Republican bona fides, that’s a tough place to be.

Dems Forget Something

Ordinarily, I would say these Democrats have a point:

Democrats in the House of Representatives are wondering if there is, just possibly, room before the next hearing on why the Attorney General chose not to call in a drone strike over Hillary Clinton’s emails, for the Justice Department to tackle one other thing.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called on Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch on Tuesday to investigate Donald J. Trump’s $25,000 contribution in support of Florida’s attorney general, saying it “may have influenced” her decision not to pursue a complaint against Trump University.

via Daily Kos

The thing is, bribery isn’t illegal anymore, not unless you have something in writing to this effect: I, Pam Bondi, in consideration of, and solely in consideration of, $25,000.00 in my hands received of Donald Trump, do hereby agree to cease my investigation of Trump University.

I don’t think you’re going to find something that clear. Even Trump isn’t that stupid, though I can’t speak for Bondi. So the Dems are barking up the wrong tree.

Second Epistle to Dave Collins

In light of recent events, yet another letter to Dave Collins is in order.

Dear Dave:

Good job. Well, reasonably good job, though you really have to do what we Catholic school kids were told to do before confession. Yes, an examination of conscience is in order. You really have to try to figure out why serving honorably as a state employee disqualifies someone from legislative office. Also, why you think it’s so important to screw state workers out of their pensions. Did you make the wrong 401k elections or something?

But let’s put that aside. Let’s get back to the Trump test, for your work is far from over. Heather Somers is not the only local candidate who failed the test. Let’s remember your final condition on the test:

“Everything else — like still thinking about it — is a fail.”

Now, it won’t surprise you to learn that John Scott (you know, the guy whose obvious conflicts of interest have failed to interest a certain columnist at the Day) has also failed the test. It’s not that he’s “still thinking about it”. He just won’t say. He says it’s none of our business (and therefore none of your business), who he’s going to vote for and why aren’t we talking about the true threat to the Republic: Dan Malloy, which is the only thing, according to John, that we should be talking about. I’m sure you’d agree that one would be splitting hairs to say that John’s position is qualitatively different than “still thinking about it”, because the test requires that the test taker denounce Trump, and John is hardly doing that. I know you’re aware of what John has said, because we sent you the ill considered comment that he put on the Groton Democrats Facebook page.

So, there’s another “F” here on the eastern side of the river, and it’s only fair to Heather that you bring it to everyone’s attention. Otherwise you risk being called out for sexism.

While you’re at it, you might turn your attention to Aundre Bumgardner, who has more reason than Heather or John to denounce the Donald. He has gone silent. Who knows why. Maybe his for-profit charter school backers and the CBIA prefer that he keep quiet. I can’t answer for him, but we sure haven’t heard a word. In any event, it’s long past the time for these folks to put up or shut up; and since they’ve shut up, it’s time for you to send them to the same perdition to which you consigned Heather.

I realize that in your world a conflict ridden insurance agent and a never employed, non- taxpaying college dropout are probably superior to an accomplished attorney and a general foreman of a custom metal fabrication shop, town councilor and drug treatment advocate (so long as they have that “R” next to their name) , but after promising to vote for one of those despised ex-state employees, you’re in a bit of the same boat as Macbeth:

I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

Well, you’re not exactly steeped in blood, but you did say you were going to vote for a Democrat, and for you, that’s practically the same thing. Still, believe me, it’s easier to go o’er than return, and a lot more justifiable. You won’t believe how good you’ll feel when you vote that straight Democratic ticket. Sort of like Darth Vader when he returned from the Dark Side, only you don’t have to die in the process.

An open letter to Dave Collins

Dear Dave,

I hope you didn’t miss it! Heather Somers, Republican candidate for the State Senate, has taken and failed your Trump test. You remember. Here’s what you wrote:

“I would suggest calling this the Trump test, one I intend to try on every state Republican candidate I encounter this election season.

It’s pretty simple: A pledge to renounce, like Shays has, is a pass.

Everything else — like still thinking about it — is a fail.”

I know you’ve been working hard to run those Republicans to ground to administer the test, though I have to say you haven’t made much progress, but it looks like someone else at the Day has done your work for you:

Republican Somers conceded she’s not thrilled about either Democrat Hillary Clinton or the GOP’s Donald Trump.

But when asked whom she will vote for on Nov. 8, the former mayor of the Town of Groton said while she doesn’t like things that Trump has said, she is more put off by things that Clinton has done.

“Therefore I will support my party’s nominee,” she said, to applause from those there to support her.

It’s a fair summary of what she said, but, you really should watch the video. It’s right there on your website. Her consultants must have stayed up late thinking up those lines, and you can just tell Heather herself spent time rehearsing to make them come out just right. It’s a word salad so artfully arranged that it takes several seconds to realize that it’s complete nonsense. But you’re not fooled, are you? Are you?

No, there’s no doubt about it. Heather failed the test with flying colors.

Anyway, I know you journalists sometimes have a bit of a lazy streak, which is why you love getting fed stories by the Republicans. It’s so much easier than doing the work yourself. So, in case you’re having trouble bestirring yourself to call bullshit on Heather, I thought I’d give you a few points you can work with.

We lawyers have a phrase about distinctions without a difference. Distinguishing between what someone has said, and what someone has done, in this particular context, is just such a distinction, right? We both know, don’t we, that words are deeds, especially when those words are used to whip up hatred. Remember what Justice Holmes said about falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater? That’s what Trump has been doing, and you can go ahead and use that analogy. I’m giving it to you for free. We know, don’t we, that there has never been a major party candidate, at least in the 20th or 21st Century, who has been as toxic as Trump. The damage Trump has already done by what he has said is far greater than any damage Hillary has done, at least if we confine ourselves to facts, and not fevered right wing conspiracy theories. And we won’t go there, will we?

Now, what Heather may be trying to say, is that while Trump may be saying that he wants to do objectionable things, that’s no proof that he will actually do those things, because he’s a politician, and you can’t believe any politician will do as he or she promises. But what does that tell us about whatever Heather happens to be saying? Good point, right?

I know you’re too good a journalist and would never judge a person guilty due to reports of “clouds” or “shadows” or “concerns raised” when a close examination of the facts shows that there’s no proof of wrongdoing or even probable cause to believe there was any wrongdoing. So, you must be wondering what Heather finds so objectionable in what Hillary, a reliably centrist politician, has “done”. Maybe it was killing Vince Foster, but while the jury will always still be out on that one, it remains the case that, as with all the other “scandals”, there’s not a shred of evidence against her.

And then, there’s the matter of what Trump has actually done, in addition to what he’s said, for which Heather apparently feels he gets a pass. Like bribing attorneys general (pay to play, anyone?) or running a scam university. Or discriminating against blacks in his real estate ventures. Or stiffing his contractors. Or screwing unions. (Oh, I forgot, you think that’s a good thing) Really, you’d have a tough time finding anything Hillary has done that measures up to any of those things, never mind the other cons in which he’s engaged.

I hope this has been helpful. All us Democrats are looking forward to your column taking Heather to task for failing the Trump test. I know it will be hard for you to say something negative about Heather, because you’ve been so deep in the tank for her that it will be hard climbing out, so that’s why I’m helping you out. I know it’s hard, but you can do it. I’m sure you don’t regret that Trump Test column, and you’ll stick to your principles. I believe in you.

Your friend,

Ctblue

For the benefit of any readers from outside of New London County, Dave Collins is a columnist with the New London Day. He is not paid to shill for the Republican Party. He does it for free. I would have done this (well, it might have been phrased a bit differently) by way of a Letter to the Editor, but by the time it got published, the election would be over.

Poor Tim Cook

I’m writing this on an IPad, and I love the thing, but Apple is a different story. It’s a corporation, and like Google’s should be, it’s motto could be “first, do evil”.

It seems the European Commission has found, to Tim Cook’s stunned surprise, that Apple is using Irish law to avoid paying taxes, not only here in the U.S., but to Ireland itself. Apple Made a deal with Ireland to pay a portion of its loose change to Ireland in order to escape taxation everywhere else, and will now have to pay slightly more. Cook is furious, claiming that the Commission’s insistence that it pay taxes in line with the rates Ireland charges to other tax dodgers is “total political crap“.

For reasons that are mystifying to me, the U.S. government also feels that Apple, which avoids taxes here, should also be allowed to avoid taxes in Europe.

What I find interesting is that this ruling stems from a European regulation that forbids member states from granting tax benefits on a piecemeal basis. As I understand it, they are free to adopt any tax code they want, but the laws have to apply to everyone, and they can’t dish out the kind of tax breaks that have sent the states here in the best country on earth racing to the bottom. It’s the kind of common sense regulation that would be adopted here in a minute, if we had a Congress that was not bought and paid for by the corporations. Instead we have a system that allows a state and governor that shall remain unnamed to cut school funding while giving 22 million to a billionaire to build himself a nice new headquarters. These deals do affect interstate commerce, so the federal government should have the power to step in and bar them across the board. Everyone would be better off if no one could do it, but as it is at present, everyone has to do it because if they don’t, someone else will.

Meanwhile, my heart’s bleeding for poor Tim Cook. It’s so unfair that Apple is expected to help pay, be that contribution ever so small, for the system of laws and governments that makes its existence possible.