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Unbridled demagoguery has driven the GOP to an inflection point from which there is no turning back. If a populist prevails in the primary, as appears increasingly likely, the party faces either devastating defeat in the general election or a new, unrecognizable identity. In either scenario, a large swath of the GOP electorate will be forced to eat crow and reevaluate its affiliation. Call it, if you will, a moral debt restructuring, one caused by the reckless behavior of a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy.

— Anthony Scaramucci, January 13, 2016, Fox Business

Punctuating each word — one by one — the U.S. Navy admiral said, “I will not violate the oath that I have taken in the 36 years as a commission officer.”

Rogers’ face hardened and his voice cracked as he added: “I won’t do that.”

— ABC News

Trump supporters will call this “Fake News” but fortunately, there is nothing fake about a United States military officer standing up for the oath he took. This is the kind of man we need in a leadership position in our country.

Trump, his bankruptcies, and 35% of the population rooting for him and not caring that he is taking money right out of their pockets. Making America great!

Ends and Beginnings

Gold Platted

“Stop saying I went bankrupt. I never went bankrupt but like many great business people have used the laws to corporate advantage—smart!” – Donald Trump 9:30 AM – 19 Jun 2015

It is a well-known and documented fact that Donald Trump companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six times. For those of you unfamiliar with this process, a company can remain in business while wiping away most if not all of its debts. A bankruptcy court approves a corporate budget and a plan to repay any remaining debt while shareholders and or investors lose all if not most of their equity. Think of Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a pardon, past sins are erased, the slate is clean and in the case of Trump’s Taj Mahal Atlantic City casino ready for another bankruptcy one year later.

If you want to know what this Russia, fake news thing is really all about these…

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Ok, let me get this straight:

You get yourself elected, make sure you have both houses of Congress in your party’s control, and then you can do anything you want, profit from the presidency, sell out the country to the highest bidder, launder money for the Russian mob, install your unqualified and unelected kids into high government positions, appoint cronies who are not qualified for their positions, and then commit crimes – say shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue – and then pardon yourself – over and over again.

Trump, with his infinite power, could revoke the 22nd Amendment (Hitler playbook), gerrymander the districts and make sure he gets reelected. If any strong opponents surface, he just has them whacked (Putin playbook).

When he dies, he installs Donald Jr., so we start a dynasty of Trumps for the next 75 years (Kim Il-sung playbook).

That’s what happens when a president can just pardon everyone, including himself.

Meanwhile, America, its values and its institutions, are rapidly going down the tubes. The United States of America is becoming an oligarchy at an alarming rate.

Trump supporters seem to not mind that. Don’t they see this guy is completely corrupt? How is that good for America?

Trump, eight months after winning the election, looks increasingly illegitimate with every day that more information trickles out. Whenever bad news surface, he deflects and questions why we’re not going after Hillary and her emails. Because Hillary is now a private citizen, she isn’t mucking with our country, she isn’t dismantling our environmental protections, she isn’t selling favors to the highest bidders, she isn’t undermining our health insurance system, and she isn’t systematically dumbing down our country.

Go ahead, investigate Hillary all you want. It has no meaning to the county! Hillary has ridden off into the sunset.

It’s Trump that’s doing damage to our country that will take decades to clean up. That’s why we’re interested in his apparently criminal career and current obvious abuses of power.

Don’t even tell me I am just mad that Hillary didn’t win. I am way over Hillary. But I, for one, want my country back.

Now!

 

The Latin Corner – a reblog. Before Wolfgang’s Latin contributions, I had this 2012 entry, which gets occasional hits from Internet searches. Worth a reblog.

Norbert Haupt

On the way home from Home Depot a bumper sticker on the car in front of me caught my eye:

Cogito Ergo Deus Non Est

I venture to say that 99% of Americans cannot read Latin. I only know one other American I know who can, and I know more than 100 people. I might have missed one or two of you that are clandestine Latin readers, if so, please correct me.

No matter how small the percentage actually is, the efficacy of this bumper sticker is severely limited.

Here is what it says:

I think, therefore there is no God

.

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Hiking Mt. Marcy

Even though this post is over 7 years old, I still get nice comments from readers from all over the country. I was planning on going back to the Adirondacks this week after a conference in Saratoga, but didn’t make it this year. Things got too busy at work. I miss the Adirondacks, and here’s to share some of its adventure!

Norbert Haupt

I finally hiked Mt. Marcy, with 5,344 feet the highest peak in New York, and an adventure it was. I am a West Coast hiker. I am used to blue sky, heat in the day, cold at night, the need for sunscreen, high altitude trailheads and even higher peaks. And I am used to switchbacks.

The Adirondacks are a whole different beast. Mt. Marcy has a number of reasonable trails reaching it, the shortest of which starts at the Adirondack Loj (spelling intentional by its builder, Melvil Dewey, who was an advocate of “simplified spelling”) at Heart Lake. The trail is 7.2 miles long. Marcy is therefore a fairly remote hike. I can do 7.2 miles one way, no problem. But the trail up Marcy is not different from the trail up Algonquin and Ampersand. Straight up, all the time.

You can click to enlarge the map above. The trail starts…

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Richard Nixon with John McCain [picture credit: unknown]

One thing you can say about Trisha – she knows how to have fun. This afternoon, she treated me to a ride in a biplane over San Diego. What better thing is there to do for no particular reason at all?

Here is the plane. As in all photos in this post, you can click on it to enlarge. Everyone who lives in San Diego has seen this blue and red biplane in the sky at one time or another. The plane was built in 1927. It is thirty years older than I am, and by far the oldest plane I have ever been in. Think of it. The Wright Brothers first flew in 1903. This plane was built just 24 years after that!

We’re gonna fly!

Here we are over the ocean, looking back to the Torrey Pines glider port. The cliff was swarming with paragliders. We stayed offshore so we didn’t get too close to any of them. If you zoom in and carefully look by the red arrows, you see a couple of them.

Below at the blue arrow is the infamous San Diego Blacks Beach. Do you see any of the nude sunbathers? I looked, but they were too far away.

We turned around and headed for La Jolla. Here is a quick video looking over the hood.

Speaking of La Jolla, here is a good look down at the famous La Jolla cove. You can see all the people on the beach.

And here is a view of the little cove (upper right) where there is a lot of controversy because it’s been taken over by seals. Some want to ban the seals, because they pollute the beach. Others say it’s their beach. Leave them alone.

Looking back, you can see our pilot. How in the world he can see anything back there is beyond me! He pretty much flies the plane looking sideways and down. At one time he pointed out a school of dolphins in the water near the beach and pointed the wing down at them was we circled over the spot checking them out.

Heading back inland now, here is a great view of Mission Bay.

Here is one of the San Diego canyons, with downtown in the back on the left.

Snoopy was also busy taking pictures. All that was missing was her scarf flying behind her in the wind.

Finally, our approach back to the runway. The plan just dive bombed down for the approach. The landing took what seemed just a few seconds.

And that was a superb way to spend a Tuesday afternoon. It’s called an “Adventure.”

 

Russia, under Putin, is practically a nation run by an organized crime ring, inside and out. Putin’s regime has been accused of eliminating any opposition by arresting the opponents on made-up charges, and there are many accusations of killings of opponents of all types. Read Bill Browder’s book Red Notice for a harrowing story about Putin’s regime. In it, you will learn how the Magnitsky Act came about, the very legislation in the U.S. that was enacted to counteract Russian human rights violations. The Magnitsky Act is also related to the Russian orphan adoption program that recently made headlines when Trump Jr. deflected to discussions about adoptions in the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians. Senator John McCain had a leading role in the Magnitsky Act.

Russia is a nation run by organized crime. It kills opposition inside, and it sows corruption outside. Since Trump took office, Russia now spreads corruption in the United States.

The Trump regime, in my opinion, is nothing but an organized crime ring, installed in the Oval Office. Nepotism abounds. Don Donald installed his relatives in key positions, whether they are qualified or not. Clearly, none of them were elected. Trump unabashedly profits from the presidency. When Jimmy Carter took office, he was accused of somehow having his peanut farm profit from the office. That was a scandal at the time. Don Donald’s conflicts of interest are not even news anymore. It’s a new normal. Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, is serving in prison in Colorado for openly trying to profit from his office and selling Obama’s senate seat. But Trump can try to repeal Obama’s sanctions against Russia so he can continue with his real estate projects in Moscow. All he has to do is tell us often enough that the Russians are our friends, and the American public starts accepting it as reality.

We do not have an administration now. We have a regime. We have joined the likes of Russia, and Iran, and Syria and all the banana republics that came and went. Criminal activity goes unchecked in the White House, and the Republican Party just goes along with it, in the name of power.

The Republican Party has stopped serving the country. What’s best for the country does not seem important to them anymore. Instant gratification is what matters.

It may be that we have to wait until the midterm election before we can throw them all out. With Don Donald and the Trumpashians swept out of the White House, Pence will take office.

Pence is a man who I believe would never have been able to win the presidency on his own. Pence’s ideology is 180 degrees opposing to mine. I don’t agree with his policies. I don’t agree with his decisions.

But I will be relieved. He will bring decorum and dignity back into the White House. He will turn what was a regime back into an administration. We will once again at least not have to be embarrassed about boorish remarks, sleazy public comments, leering behavior against wives of world leaders and personal Twitter attacks against private American citizens from the President of the United States.

Pence will serve for two years, and then he will lose the re-election campaign in 2020.

If I had dealings with Russia, or Iran, or North Korea, and I got caught, the FBI would arrest me and I’d be charged with treason.

Republicans have dismissed Trump Jr.’s email smoking gun with “he made a rookie mistake, no big deal.”

It’s still a crime, folks, when you collude with a foreign government to attack the United States.

If I got caught with my dealing with Russia, or Iran, or North Korea, I’d be going to prison, and if I told the judge or the jury “sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing, it was a rookie mistake,” they’d simply laugh.

And I’d rot in prison.

 

China has a government that makes up its mind to do something, and boom, it gets it done.

For instance, China has more high speed rail than the entire rest of the world combined. China is currently building almost twice as much high speed rail as the entire rest of the world combined. The United States is ranked along with tiny countries like Belgium, Austria, Taiwan and Uzbekistan in its installed base. Greece, yes, Greece is building more high speed rail than the United States (see more details here).

Another example is quantum research. Here is an example of China’s advance in teleportation. They succeeded in teleporting an object from earth to orbit.

In the United States, we are vilifying scientists in many areas of study for reasons that are incomprehensible to me. For instance, our government is squelching research in stem cell technology because of a religiously guided notion of what an embryo is. Our government is systematically shutting down climate research because some members of that government are financially supported by corporations that might lose some of their profits if the public realized the damage they are doing. The White House let all its people in the science office go.

China has an active space program. The last time the United States launched humans into space was July 8, 2011. That’s over SIX YEARS ago. We rely on Russia to launch our astronauts. On October 17, 2016, China launched its sixth manned space mission. They are rapidly becoming a space superpower all on their own. They don’t need the Russians to launch their astronauts.

I am not a friend of China, its policies, and its government. I am just an observer. 50 years from now, China will be the undisputed superpower in the world. The U.S. will look like a crumbling nation, with shoddy infrastructure (we already have that, I agree with Trump on that). We will have to import all technology from other countries. All goods sold at Walmart and Amazon will be made in China. We will be busy praying to hold the waters back in Florida, Louisiana, Boston and New York City.

China is moving ahead of us rapidly and we don’t even notice. Our leaders are on a reverse course, ceding scientific, political, moral and ethical leadership to other nations. We’re supposedly busy making our nation great again, while we apparently are fixated on building useless walls (which the Chinese did many centuries ago), keeping out immigrants because we’re afraid they might kill us, and spending enormous money ($700 billion) on weapons so other countries can’t come and take our stuff.

The way I see it, if we keep going like this – and not very long – there won’t be much here that others will want to come and get. We’re sending our money overseas, for oil, for cars, for TVs and for food, and the countries overseas like it that way.

Never in the history of this country has our leadership been on such a wrong, misguided and self-destructive course.

Trump and Hannity

Trump didn’t like the negative press he got for having his daughter sit in for him at a meeting of the world leaders at the G-20 summit. The ridicule was universal. So, to make it better, he thought he should lash out at – the Clintons. This is what he tried:

The President of the United States lashes out at the daughter of an Ex-President in a puerile tweet. Yes, that is really going to make me think of him as presidential!

But Chelsea wasn’t having any of it.

What Trump means with “giving the country away” is beyond me, but even if it made sense, how would that somehow justify his presumptuous action of sending his daughter to that table? Even IF Clinton had done the same thing, it still would not make his action right.

This is what the Trump supporters always do. When someone criticizes Trump, they point out that supposedly Obama or Clinton, or lately even Carter somehow did the same thing, and therefore why are we critical of the president?

Hannity, in his monologue tonight, used the same technique. He called the national uproar about Trump Jr.’s admission of collusion a “Russian Psychosis.” The entire left-wing media was foaming at the mouth about nothing, he said. Then he pointed out that supposedly Clinton had colluded with the Ukrainians to win advantages over Trump during the election.

Let’s just analyze that for a minute and assume that whatever Clinton did with Ukraine was equivalent to what it looks like Trump did with Russia. If that were true, and equivalent, McConnell and Ryan would be going after Clinton now, and we’d have special prosecutors, and 21 investigations underway, and Trump would be calling to “lock her up!” Hannity, by making the two equivalent, does all but agree that Trump did apparently collude and that it was wrong. But we’re supposed to be angry that there is no outrage over Clinton and Ukraine.

Well, Hannity, Clinton is not the president. Trump is. And it looks like he and his staff committed crimes to get to that office. The media are just helping expose the facts. The media didn’t make Trump take those actions. The media are witnesses. The media are not trying to make Trump unable to do this job, as you said tonight. The media is reporting as best as it can.

It’s not the media’s fault Trump is unable to govern effectively. It’s not the fault of Congress or, as you so condescendingly put it, the “lazy Republicans in Congress.” Trump messed this up all by himself.

And while I am ranting: It is the height of arrogance for Hannity to call those Republicans who can no longer stand by and participate in this destructive behavior “lazy.” Let’s see what these “lazy Republicans” will have to say when this is all over, and Hannity’s darling falls.

Trump is our president. He vowed to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

I am not convinced that he is doing that. Making a deal with Putin about not looking to quarrels of the past and moving forward productively is condoning what happened. Accepting Putin’s denial of the Russian hacking is naïve at least, negligent of duty more likely.

Russia is one of the world’s most corrupt countries. If you need further education or information about Russian corruption, read the book Red Notice by Bill Browder. It will convince you.

Up to now, America was in an entirely different league. But that is changing rapidly with Trump and is ilk in office. Nepotism abounds.

He put his daughter at the table with the G-20 world leaders, rather than another elected official or a cabinet-level appointee. His daughter! Who has never held a job in her life that he didn’t hand to her or appoint her to. Who has no diplomatic experience whatsoever. Our president left the cockpit while the ship was under full sail, and he gave the helm to his unqualified and inexperienced daughter. Are the nuclear codes safe with him? Nothing else seems to be.

I wonder what we would have said to Obama if he had sat his daughter at that table in 2014? Seriously!

By inviting the Russians to jointly investigate cyber security, he is inviting the proverbial fox into the henhouse. This is foolish. The Russians are playing Trump like a fiddle. And we’re all sitting here watching in disbelief.

Trump is unqualified and unfit. We knew that all along, and even his GOP opponents proclaimed it before the election. Together with unqualified and unfit, he is now also uneducated and unsophisticated. The world laughs about us and about him. He doesn’t even seem think there is anything wrong. After all, his supporters wanted him to “fix America” and not the world. But with the role and influence of America in the world, that’s just not possible. He is passing world leadership to China and Russia, and that may never be reversed.

China and Russia are smarter, more experienced, more shrewd and more corrupt than we are.

And we are the laughing-stock of the world.

 

Maud (Sally Hawkins) is afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis and has been since she was a child. Her fingers are twisted, her legs misshapen, and she has a hunchback. When her parents died, her brother sold their home and put Maud up to live with her overbearing aunt. Nobody takes her seriously.

Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) is a local fish peddler in a village in Nova Scotia. He is a socially challenged, extremely reclusive, and verbally and physically abusive. When he puts up an ad for a housemaid, Maud sees it and applies for the job. She comes to live with him in his very small house out in the country.

Maud starts cleaning up around the place and decorating it with her own little paintings. By chance, one of Everett’s customers sees the artwork and starts commissioning works from her. Over time, Maud’s work gets the attention of the folk art scene in New York City.

Gradually the unlikely couple develops a bond of love.

Maudie is based on the life story of painter Maud Lewis, who lived in Nova Scotia with her husband Everett Lewis. They lived in poverty for most of their lives in a famously small house. You can google “Paintings by Maud Lewis” and find many of her paintings, her house, herself and her husband.

Maudie is a movie of unusual circumstances and deep emotions. It’s a story about life, its simplicity, and its cruel reality. Watching it made my eyes tear from time to time, and most of all, it made me go home and pick up my paint brushes again, which have been lying idle for too long lately.

Maudie is a celebration of the human spirit and life. In one of the scenes, when asked what painting means to her, she looks out the window and says:

The Whole of Life, Already Framed, Right There!

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