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Bits & Pieces #101

by The Urban Curmudgeon on January 20th, 2018

The problem of sanctuary cities has come to the fore and it is really an interesting argument. From a human and a liberal point of view it is a no brainer. Cities like San Francisco and New York have established themselves on a political principal that allows them to protect their residents from the arms of a Federal Government that has failed completely in its lack of functioning immigration policy. This country like any mature country needs immigration to replenish and restore its burgeoning work force and industrial base. Our current immigration system is an almost complete failure and thus an obstacle to our recruiting and holding exactly the population we need to keep out country great. Despite the mindset of Donald Trump and his moronic sycophants the need for immigration is obvious.

But so is the need for law and order. This is a nation built on laws and most if not all of those laws must come down from Federal authority. States rights were a major cause of the Civil War and our cowardly failure to eliminate them after that war have been a constant problem for this country ever since. Our current problems with immigration and drugs are a foreseeable result of the nonsense that calls itself States Rights. If we are to be a nation of laws, than our laws, in order to be effective, must be national. But just as important is, our national laws must be functional. Right now, our immigration laws and our drug laws are not only non-functional, they are nonsensical. On the drug side we have states that are growing billion dollar industries based on state law that allows them while those same businesses are illegal according to Federal law, therefore allowing them to be vulnerable to Federal arrest and seizure. That’s idiotic. None of this should have been allowed to progress without Federal approval. It has only happened because people’s greed has outstripped their patience.

Even more important is the concept of Sanctuary Cities because here, it’s not simply the acquisition of cash but the impact these situations have on the totality of people’s lives. Sanctuary Cities are a great humane concept but they are a subversion of the law and open the lives of those they seek to protect to utter destruction. No matter how people like this author feel about the protective need they fulfill, they are currently operating in complete subversion of Federal Law. The answer is not to open more Sanctuary Cities; the answer is to change the federal law. If the goal of protest is not to change a law, than the protest is pretty much futile. When the needs of those who are our less fortunate neighbors become more important to us than our immediate cultural wants we will finally move to elect legislators who will enact federal laws that will serve the needs of the majority of the people and at that point, maybe, just maybe, we will be able to live in a country that serves those humane needs and doesn’t just cater to those of the greedy, selfish few.

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Watched an incredibly depressing discussion about DACA. Depressing because it illustrated how even the most non-controversial subject has become a victim of political intention. No reasonable person has yet come up with any valid objection to allowing these young people to stay in this country and pursue their lives. They came here illegally through no fault of their own. Only fanatics argue that they should not be allowed to stay. But the problem just doesn’t get solved; mainly because both sides want to gain something, grab some advantage somewhere else, or they will not allow it to get it done. This is so grossly immoral that it defies description and the fault lies with both sides but especially with Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell.

Trump said that he wanted to see DACA done but he also wants to waste billions on a useless wall that current investigation shows will do more to keep illegal immigrants from leaving the country than it will to keep them from entering it. This would seem like a no brainer except that Trump promised a Wall to his voters and he doesn’t want to look like a liar. Yes, that’s a joke, a very unfortunate joke but still a joke, just like Trump.

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Did the Russians really intervene in our elections? Let’s look at some facts:

128 million voters reached on Facebook by Russian operatives

309 million views of Russian info on You Tube

288 Million reached by Twitter

WikiLeaks :

Don Jr: “….if it’s what you say, I love it.”

Don Sr: “Boy I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

Two of Trumps campaigners have pled guilty of crimes, two others are indicted and a bunch of others are hovering on the brink of jail terms.

What makes sense to you?

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For those who have wondered about this blog’s attacks on big Pharma, let me point to just one single example of why our institutional drug companies need much stricter controls. There is this cancer drug called CeeNU developed by Bristol Meyer and sold for $50.00 per capsule. That’s a lot of dough for one pill, no matter how effective it is. No matter what’s in that pill, fifty bucks represents a huge profit. Yeah, yeah, I know all about the cost of research and development and admittedly it can be severe but still, there’s a hell of a lot of R & D in a fifty-buck pill and still a lot of profit. But that’s not the end of the story.

In 2013 a startup called NextSource bought the rights to this pill from Bristol-Meyers and started pushing up the price. Today that same pill sells for $768 per capsule, a 1400% increase. It’s used to help brain tumors and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. NextSource’s CEO a serious sleaze named Robert DiCrisci has tried to justify the price increase by saying that it is due to the cost of research and development. But wait a minute! NextSource isn’t the company that did the research and development. That was Bristol Meyers, before they sold it to NextSource. That, my friends, is why I have referred to Mr. DiCrisci as a serious sleaze. And it is exactly why the government should be imposing crushing curbs on drug pricing. This is not an industry that is just sneaking by in the profit department. Most of the big drug companies netted over a billion dollars in profit last year. Drug costs around the world are a small fraction of what they are in this country. There is no reason for those prices other than the greed of those in charge of these companies. Men like DiCrisci belong in jail not in board meetings. This can be easily accomplished as soon as we make lobbying illegal in this country.

 

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Rand Paul is one of the most frustrating men in politics. Sometimes he pursues legislation that defies logical thought and he will drive one crazy with some of his policies but occasionally he comes up with a piece of legislation that makes perfect sense. Right now he is pursuing this kind of bill. He is opposing an attempt by the CIA and local law enforcement to make available information on American citizens gathered, primarily by the CIA on foreign nationals that almost by accident involve US citizens.

An example: An investigation of a foreign national involves a phone call or email with an American citizen. A Pfizer Court has not cleared these communications because those foreign nationals who are the principals in the investigation are not protected by the constitution, as are the American citizens. Now the law enforcement agencies involved want to use that same information without obtaining a warrant to involve the American citizen. This is basically unconstitutional and that’s why Paul s against it. I think he’s right and what he is doing in this situation is very important.

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Hurray for all the big companies that have announced that they are going to give their employees a huge bonanza of up to $1,000.00 this year now that their corporate tax rate has been dropped from 35% to 21% due to the new Republican Tax Bill. These companies are all over the press announcing what great guys they are. Really sounds generous don’t it? Of course there’s always a hitch. Can everyone keep their jobs long enough to collect. Comcast and AT&T are firing thousands of their employees after making a lot of noise about how great that ole tax bill was going to be for them. Well, at least those poor slobs who are getting fired won’t have to pay any taxes. That’s the beauty of not earning any money. That’s like Walmart’s bragging about raising their pay scale to $11.00 an hour. Of course they didn’t mention that only employees who had been with the company since before the flood would be getting that much. In fact they were closing a number of stores just to balance things out. Yeah that good old tax bill is really hitting home. At least for those that still have homes.

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So Trump keeps telling us about how Mueller’s investigation is just fake news and how it’s not going anywhere and that there’s no collusion. Okay, sounds fine, but how come two of his buddies have already pled guilty of lying to the FBI and how come Mueller is looking into Trump himself, and there is discussion about having him testify. How come emails have revealed that Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr. have met with Russians to discuss the campaign and how come Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates are under indictment and facing serious time in the hoosegow? How come James Comey practically accused Trump of obstructing justice when he was asked not to pursue the case against the Russians and what about the misleading letter that Trump dictated aboard Air Force One, lying about his brat’s involvement in the meeting with the Russians? And, oh yes, why did Don Jr. exchange private messages with WikiLeaks during the campaign. Mueller has interrogated over 25 current and former Trump aides. What have they told him and how deeply does it involve Trump in stuff he is currently lying about? According to the Russian ambassador, Kushner wanted to set up a secure communication line between Trump headquarters and the Kremlin. Are we supposed to believe that this had nothing to do with giving them something for their help in hacking our election? Then why is it that most of the Trump people interviewed about Russian connections have lied about them? We already know that the Russians used Facebook and other Internet connections to interfere with our elections. The big question is did they do it on their own or did the Trump people promise them something for doing it? If they did, that’s treason. Fat Donald will look awfully good with a noose around his neck.

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In a move that reflected the crushing irony of his ever being in a position to act on this, South Carolinas Republican Trey Gowdy resigned this week from the House Ethics Committee. That a man without absolutely zero ethics should be serving on a legislative committee dealing with ethics is just another proof that our congress is filled with immoral, valueless, clowns that represent not the American people but only themselves and the wants of their parties.

But what’s even more ironic is that Gowdy resigned from the Ethics Committee to take over chairmanship of the Oversight Committee, a group, which if it functioned correctly, would never have allowed him to serve on Ethics.

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Chelsea Manning has announced that she will be running for the Senate in the fall. That’s just what the Democrats need, a confused, not overly bright, mentally fragile, ex-con trying to use her notoriety to obscure all the issues. Todd Eberly an obscure political science professor at St. Mary’s college in Maryland proves why he is obscure by telling us that Donald Trump’s unexpected rise to the presidency opened the door for political neophytes such as Manning. It’s truly amazing that this dolt has not considered the fact, Trump’s performance in office has not absolutely slammed the door he refers to on any such candidacy when one considers the catastrophe that is the Trump Presidency.

It would be amusing if it weren’t so bizarre, that Manning, an ex-convict, can run for an office for which ex-convicts are not eligible to vote.

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Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard is a lady with a lot bigger balls than any of her fellow legislators have been able to grow in decades. Appearing on This Week she spoke to the chaos caused by the false nuclear warning that happened in Hawaii this week. She stated flat out and with finality that the US is responsible for Kim Jung Un’s nuclear position because of the way the US has indulged in regime change in places like Iraq and Libya, and the way Trump is currently trying to undercut the Iran nuclear agreement.

I’ve heard a lot of progressive legislators talk around this but I’ve never heard any of them come right out and state an absolute belief in this premise as a fact. Gabbard is to be lauded for this stance and for the way she makes it. We need a lot more like her in congress and at least one more like her in the White House.

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Republican Senator Tom Cotton is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and considering that he has the intelligence of a squash that just doesn’t work. When asked about what should be done about the failure of the nuclear warning system in Hawaii he blustered about Iran instead of North Korea and about a Treaty that is actually, as opposed to anything the GOP has done in the last decades, working. Cotton is one of those dopes who spends his time going before TV cameras, and working as hard as he can to prove his stupidity. On Sunday he spent his time denying a racist comment that everyone else except Tom Perdue, in a meeting attended by at least half a dozen Senators, seems to have heard the Potty Mouth in Chief make. Why the Republicans should bother to deny that Trump made this despicable remark is beyond understanding, especially since he spent the night after making it, bragging to his friends about how well it would be received by his bigoted red neck base. This crude slob masquerading as President of this country is so far beyond shocking anyone by his unacceptable behavior that trying to defend him is a fool’s errand

Why would someone a dumb as Cotton worry about defending the behavior of someone as crude as Trump? Mainly, it seems because he doesn’t get the fact that the rest of us are so far past expecting anything else from the Crum bum in Chief that we almost don’t hear him. But Cotton, scrambling out of the pit of his own stupidity wants something. That’s why he is willing to denigrate himself before the world to defend Trump. He thinks that by kissing Trump’s wrinkled ass he can pick up votes from what’s left of Trump’s 33% of supporters. Why shouldn’t he be pursuing this idiot’s game? Because the 67% of those who, by now abhor Trump, will destroy him in the next election. I guess he’s just too stupid to do the math.

 

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Wrapped around Trump’s nasty comments about shithole nations in the middle of the DACA, immigration-Wall debates is this fact; most people don’t have the knowledge to consider what each element of the debate entails. So, let’s break each one down and get a grip on what’s positive and what’s negative about each element.

First there’s DACA. This is about mostly young people who were brought here illegally before they were 16 years old and have grown up and been educated as Americans. The questions have been about what to do with these dreamers, as the DACA kids are called but also what to do with their parents who came here illegally as adults and have to be held accountable for that.

The second element of this fight is immigration, which has been broken for decades. We were once a nation that welcomed all immigrants and that’s how this nation was built. At some point that has become impossible. A recent poll around the world showed that there are over 700 million people who would come here today if they were able. That’s impossible! That would triple the population of this country in one year. It would be catastrophic for any number of reasons mostly economic. But the current system doesn’t work either. The lottery idea is very democratic but does not produce the best mix possible for this nation and its needs. There are other solutions.

The third aspect of the discussion is The Wall. This has no social, or security value. In fact illegal immigration from Mexico and the other Americas is currently less than those same people departing this country to go back home. This fact has been completely ignored by Trump and his GOP sidekicks because it puts the lie to their entire argument. Even if this were not true, a wall is not the answer to keeping people out of the country. The most famous wall of modern times, The Berlin Wall, which was built in the center of a city, not out in the desert where no one can see what’s going on was riddled with tunnels and leaked like a sieve. On top of that is the staggering cost of such a venture, the low estimate being $18 billion is wasted. Don’t forget, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the Wall when he used it as a major part of his infamous policy of lies during the election campaign. An intelligent man, a sane man would understand that it is time to drop the wall unless he intends to finance it himself out of his claimed vast riches. Trump being neither intelligent nor it seems completely sane, continues to campaign for this useless, costly farce. Then there’s border security, which seems to be working fine right now but gives the GOP and the President an excuse to campaign for the wall.

Okay, so I know my job is to point out the problems and then to attack the legislators for not coming up with solutions but I think it’s time that guys like me that are always busy explaining the problems at least try to envision solutions to what we’re harping about. So here goes.

A reasonable solution to the DACA problem runs like this. We will protect the current dreamers and open a path to citizenship for them. At the same time, their illegal parents will be protected from deportation but considered as aliens with no possibility of citizenship unless they leave the country and legally re-enter. Furthermore no one will be installed into the program after this date so any children who enter from now on will be treated just like their parents. This seems to bring something to each side and there’s no reason why something like this can’t be made to work.

Then we get to immigration. Sure, our immigration system is severely broken so how about this? Dump lottery & chain immigration and replace them with a value based program which allows that immigrants will be admitted on the basis of how much they can help this country. But not a 100% value based system because there must be allowances for family members of those already here as well as those who are fleeing oppression and other problems. The percentages can be worked out but all of the above must be covered with possibly those that bring a skill or level of education getting the highest percentage. This leaves room for bi-partisan negotiation but still sets up workable guidelines that could lead to a solution.

The final element is the Wall. This one almost defies any kind of bi-partisan agreement. Any logical person understands that there is no reasonable need for the Wall. This is simply a nod to Trump’s insanity. There is, however a need for security dollars and possibly cooler heads can prevail and allow a certain amount for border security simply to placate Trump and his idiot Wall backers. If this were to happen it could possibly be the best example of bi-partisan cooperation in the history of both parties

None of these solutions are perfect and none can be and still get the votes needed from both sides to pass muster. Anyone who has ever negotiated a successful deal will tell you that a good deal always leaves those on both sides dissatisfied because neither got everything they wanted. It’s the essence of deal making. It is too bad Trump couldn’t concentrate long enough to read his own book.

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It seems that every time I start talking renewable energy to my friends or others all I hear is that the cost will never be competitive. Well, that seems about to come to an end. According to IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency the best offshore wind and photovoltaic projects can now or will by 20202 be able to deliver energy at below the current price per kilowatt-hour than fossil fuels.

The analysis deals with the dramatic drop in renewable costs in the last decade. Offshore wind costs have dropped by about 23% since 2010 while PC solar electricity has dropped by 73% in the same time frame. The current solar PC costs are expected to halve again by 2020. In the last twelve months the costs of wind and solar have stood at $0.06 and $0.10 per kWh respectively but recent energy suction results show that wind will drop to $0.04 per kWh and solar based on numbers from Abu Dhabi, Chile, Dubai, Mexico, Peru and Saudi Arabia have made $0.03 per kWh and below the new benchmark.

Even other renewables like hydropower $0.05 per kWh or bioenergy or geothermal at $0.07 per kWh are competitive with fossil fuels which are currently running from $0.07 to $0.17 per kWh. IRENA has just released the contents of this report to 1,100 representatives from governments of 150 countries. If only Donald Trump could learn to read, he could read these reports too and possibly understand how ill advised his current energy policy based on coal and oil really is.

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And as a final note, just in case you need something to give you a laugh or to make you crazy. Trump appointed Secretary of Homeland Security was testifying in front of the Senate Committee dealing with immigration yesterday when she made the statement that she didn’t know if Denmark was a country with a primarily white population. This is the Secretary of Homeland Security the lady in charge of dealing with immigration —— and her name is Kirstjen Nielson —–any questions?

From → Politics

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