Saturday, February 4, 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


We are sad to inform you that truth has died in Washington. Funeral services will be held next Thursday at a church to be announced. The passing had been expected for some time because truth has been fading away for years.

Politicians are not particularly known for their veracity. (“I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski.”) But of late political aversion to truth has become stronger than ever. Take for example, the President of the United States. Years ago he spread the word that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya. It did not matter that it was an outright lie. Donald Trump kept repeating it for years.

It would take a book to list all of the falsehoods Mr. Trump uttered during the campaign, but one of his first was typical: He had seen thousands of Muslems in New Jersey cheering with the planes hit the twin towers in New York. It did not matter that the event never happened. Trump’s proof was that many of his followers claimed that they had “seen” the same thing.

Winning the presidency did not cure the Donald of his “little fibs.” The day after the inauguration Donald accused the press of lying about the size of the crowd at the inauguration, claiming that it was larger than reported by the media. The National Park Service tweeted pictures of the crowds at Trump’s and at Obama’s first inauguration. The pictures clearly showed a lot more people at the Obama event. Shortly afterwards the Park Service’s twitter account was deactivated.

Who really cares about which event had the biggest attendance? Nobody except Honest Donald. He cared enough to have his press secretary, the hapless Sean Spicer, berate the press for their “dishonest” reporting. Why would anyone quibble about statements that are so easily disproved? Is Donald’s ego so fragile that he cannot stand the thought that Obama’s inauguration might have attracted a larger crowd than Trump’s own?

When Spicer’s “facts” were easily shown to be untrue, Kellyanne Conway came to his rescue, stating that Spicer had cited “alternate facts.” “Alternate facts” occur when someone doesn’t like the real facts, so just makes up something that he likes better. In some circles, alternate facts are known as lies.

One of the reasons that there is so much resistance to the Trump presidency, besides the fact that he probably had some unwarranted help, is that Hillary got almost 3 million more votes than he did. Honest Donald got tired of hearing about this, so he claimed, untruthfully, that he would have won the popular vote had there not been so many illegals voting for Hillary.

If you’re looking for the truth coming from Washington, you’re going to have to wait at least four years.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


After Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, the stock market started climbing. Presumably this was based on the premise that taxes would be lowered on business and the wealthy. Given the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, this seems likely to happen. However, not everyone is optimistic about the economic outlook over the next four years.

This is partly because we can’t take Mr. Trump at his word. He often does not seem to comprehend the complexities of the issues he deals with. He frequently walks back statements he has made or says they were merely jokes. Sometimes he outright lies and continues to insist of the veracity of those lies long after they have been exposed as falsehoods.

Also Republicans are generally regarded as friendly to business while Democrats are thought of as hostile to business, but recently the economy has flourished under Democratic administrations and floundered while the Republicans had the White House. President Clinton handed President Bush a tidy surplus in the federal treasury. Bush promptly squandered it by lowering taxes on the well-to-do and starting a misguided war in Iraq. Under the Bush administration we saw the greatest economic struggle since the Great Depression. President Obama took the mess that Bush had handed him and turned it around, pulling us out of the Great Recession and handing the economy to President Trump in a much better shape than it was when he received it. Do you have any confidence in Donald Trump’s ability to handle it with care?

Conservatives believe that the marketplace will be able to resolve any issues it faces. If you just let things go, the law of supply and demand will make everything turn out right in the end. They resent liberal meddling, making up rules and regulations that hinder business’s ability to function without interference.

And yet that is just what Donald Trump did when he stepped into a business decision made by Carrier in Indiana. The company was going to shutter two plants and send them to Mexico. Trump talked them into keeping one of those plants open, partly by having his running mate, who happened to be governor of Indiana, grant the company some $7 million in tax credits. Trump also threatened to impose a heavy tariff on any material coming from that Mexican plant into the United States. It is almost like having the central government decided how many pairs of shoes were to be made, as was done during the Soviet government in Russia

Can the President step in, in the decision any business makes if he does not agree with it? Is the governor of every state involved going to grant tax credits to companies that say they’re going to move out of the country? What will stop manufacturers from threatening to move out of the country unless they get significant tax breaks? What will prevent the companies that keep manufacturing here from replacing huge portions of their work force with automation?

Mr. Trump blames China and Mexico for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States. He threatens to tear up international trade agreements and raise trade barriers in the form of high tariffs against countries he deems our adversaries in trade. However, those jobs are gone forever. More jobs have been lost to automation than to companies sending them overseas. What is needed is not a trade war but education to prepare American workers for the new world that is emerging through automation, computers, and the internet.

If America raises import duties on goods from other countries, they will retaliate by doing the same to us. Such warfare will destroy the delicate symbiosis that keeps the world economy in balance. The real estate bubble that burst in 2008 threw the economy off balance not only in this country but world-wide. The Great Depression of the 1930s was felt in every country. In warfare no one wins. Everyone loses. This is true in economic war as well.

A recent issue of The Week featured Trump on the cover as a bull in the china shop. It was an apt comparison.

Friday, December 9, 2016


During the primary campaign an 18-year-old college student named Lauren Batchelder told candidate Donald Trump that she didn’t think that he was “a friend to women.” The next day on Twitter called Batchelder “an arrogant young woman” and speculated that might have been a plant for a rival campaign.

After that she started getting threatening and sexual phone calls. One said, “I wish I could punch you in the face.” Another told her, “Watch your back, punk.”

A few days ago Chuck Jones, leader of the United Steel Workers at Carrier in Indianapolis, said that Trump had lied to Carrier workers. Trump then tweeted that Jones had done a terrible job representing the workers. If the union was any good, Trump said, they would have kept the jobs in the country.

Jones then started getting threatening phone calls. One told him, “You better keep your eye on your kids.” Another said, “We know what car you drive.”

Then the CEO of Boeing was quoted as questioning Trump’s policy on trade. Trump responded with a tweet that said that the cost of building Air Force One, which was being done by Boeing, had spiraled out of control. He quoted a cost of $4 billion, which was far from true. He also threatened to cancel the contract with Boeing.

The next morning Boeing stocks fell nearly $2 a share.

What do you call a government whose citizens fear to criticize its leaders?   

Monday, October 3, 2016


For many people the appeal of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate is his success as a businessman.  This “successful businessman” had four business bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992. His leaked income tax form shows that he lost almost $1 billion in 1995. He lost all that money because of mismanagement of his Atlantic City casinos and bad investments in an airline and the Plaza Hotel in New York.

People who worked for him lost their jobs. Scores of contractors were never paid for their work. Investors in Trump’s enterprises saw their shares go from $35.50 in value to 17 cents. Yet Trump continued to enjoy a lavish lifestyle and was able to use the tax loss to shield himself from paying taxes for years to come.

Trump said an ability to avoid paying taxes makes him smart. The two stooges, Rudy and Chris, both referred to Donald’s tax avoidance as “genius.” If losing $915 million is genius, I’d hate to see how much money stupidity can lose.

Donald Trump has called lots of people losers, but he is way ahead of them as the biggest loser of them all.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Since the federal budget for NASA has declined, American billionaires have entered the space race. Led by Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic have been  testing rockets and preparing a manned trip to Mars. One failed exploit was an attempt by Mark Zuckerberg of FaceBook to launch a satellite that would have provided internet service to the developing world.

Can you think of any famous billionaires who have not been mentioned? Of course, there is Donald Trump, who has a hand in dozens of enterprises. A Leisure Times staff member investigated the possibility of a Donald Trump space endeavor. It has been kept on the hush-hush, but The Donald does have a rocket being prepared for a trip to distant planets.

“I didn’t want to say anything about it earlier,” Trump said, “because I don’t like to draw attention to myself, but I can tell you, I will be the best space master that God ever created.”

It seems that the entrepreneur has assembled a group of wealthy businessmen to finance the operation. Although he will head the organization, none of his own money will be involved. He didn’t have a lot of information about the fine points, saying, “It’s called management.”

“In a risky undertaking,” the real estate tycoon continued, “it’s better to use other people’s money. That way, if the thing blows up, I won’t be out any of my own money. In fact I would still come out ahead, because I would pay myself a nice salary as CEO of the project.”

We were impressed with the brilliance of Trump’s plan. “I’ve got a very good brain,” he said, tapping himself on the forehead. “After all, I went to Wharton.”

Saturday, September 10, 2016


There are unwritten rules of conduct between civilized people. When we ignore these rules, we do so at the risk of descending into anarchy. Several politicians have destroyed what should be the decorum and gravitas of presidential politics and brought it down to the level of crude, middle school name calling.

This descent into chaos is not limited to presidential politics. Maine Governor Paul LePage compared the IRS to the Gestapo and said that President Obama “hates white people.” When the assistant senate majority leader Troy Jackson said the governor was “delusional,” LePage replied that Jackson was “the first to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.” When the governor thought that Democratic Representative Drew Gattine had called him a racist, he left a message on Gattine’s answer machine. The message contained these words: “you little son of a bitch, socialist, c*ck sucker.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is another politician who finds it easy to come up with nasty words to express his thoughts. When he was mayor of Davao City, an Australian woman was gang-raped and murdered. Duterte made a joke about it. More recently, when he was scheduled to meet President Obama at the ASEAN conference, Duterte made a reference to Obama as a son of a bitch. He later apologized and said he hadn’t meant it personally. Nevertheless, Obama cancelled the meeting.

The outrageous things that Donald Trump has said are too numerous to mention, but here is a sampling: He has insulted woman many times as well as Muslims and Mexicans. He has used offensive language to describe all of his opponents in the Republican primary elections as well as his opponent in the general election. He called Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg an incompetent judge. He mocked disabled reporter Serge Kavaleski. Trump belittled John McCain’s military service and attacked the parents of a fallen American soldier.

So these three men have shown themselves to be crude, uncivilized bullies. Does that mean that they are unfit for high office? Yes, it does, and not only because they lack the dignity to represent the constituency they serve. If they cannot or will not follow the rules of civil intercourse, then they cannot be trusted to follow the larger rules which they must. Otherwise the result is anarchy.

Last year Governor LePage proposed an amendment to the constitution, which would abolish the state income tax. The House of Representative voted 82-64 against the amendment. In a snit because his proposal had been voted down, the governor for a while vetoed all bills, regardless of their merit, if they had been sponsored by Democrats.

Last year Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves was hired by hired by
Goodwill-Hinckley as president of the charitable organization that works with at-risk youth. Because of the governor’s dislike of the Eves, he threatened to withhold $500,000 in state funding if they hired Eves. The intimidated board of Goodwill-Hinckley withdrew the job offer.

At the very least these actions are abuse of power or failure to perform his duty as governor of the state.

Since Duterte became president hundreds of people suspected of being drug dealers or even drug users have been killed. This is not new. For several years, While Duterte  was mayor of Daveo City, there were over a thousand extra-judicial killings of people believed to be involved in drug traffic. According to the State Department, the U. S. government has “solid evidence that Duterte was responsible for these extrajudicial killings.”

So here is a man who “Gets things done.” But at what cost? People suspected of crime were killed without benefit of a trial by jury. Where is the protection to ordinary citizens in this kind of government?

Donald Trump has never served in elective office, but he has shown his true colors in many ways. He has already told us what he would do if he had a chance.

In the face of Russian intransigence, Trump would have us renege on our pledge to NATO allies unless they begin paying more for the maintenance of NATO forces. After that our word would mean nothing.

He would reduce the national debt by getting the people we owe to accept pennies on the dollar. It worked for him in his many bankruptcies. Paul Krugman said that Trump wants to run the U S Treasury like a falling Atlantic City casino. This action would destroy the confidence in American currency that was established by Alexander Hamilton.

He would use nukes against our enemies. During his security briefing, he asked three times whey we couldn’t use our nuclear bombs. Trump would be willing to launch a nuclear holocaust, which could mean the end of humanity on earth.

He would subject suspected terrorists to waterboarding and worse. John McCain, who was tortured while he was a POW, said that torturing prisoners was not what this country is about.

Finally Donald Trump would get revenge on terrorists by assassinating their families. Here is still another example of his willingness to commit illegal acts to get what he wants.

Donald Trump’s unwillingness or inability to follow the rules of civil discourse are indications of his unwillingness to follow the laws of the land or international law. To put in his hands the power of the presidency would be the first step toward a descent into anarchy.