Clash Of The Titans


The ongoing war of words between President Trump and former President Obama is wearing me out, though I have little doubt Trump may very well be correct that he was being surveilled, if not wiretapped.

(I wrote this a couple of days before the latest round of Wikileaks came out, the “Vault 7” dump that uncovered the CIA’s surveillance techniques. In short, the gist of it was that not only could the CIA surveil someone, they could make it look like somebody else did it, like the Russians for instance. Sound familiar?)

Will we ever get down to the bottom of it? That seems to be the one thing that never seems to happen these days. The more questions there seems to be, the less answers the American public seem to get.

If the allegations are true, what can be done (or should be done) to the former President? It seems doubtful to me (though I never practiced law) that Mr. Obama could be tried criminally.

This will likely drag on in the court of public opinion for a while, as the press loves this kind of never ending nonsense. It gets tiring to watch, so I try hard these days to avoid the hysteria of cable news, and the corporations who own them.

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Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

Something happens tomorrow that hasn’t happened yet in the history of this blog; we change over from one President to another.

I thank Barack Obama for his service to the country as President. His tenure began with promise, as most new regimes do, but his legacy will wind up being a mixed bag. While he got the country started down the road with so-called affordable healthcare, the issue became a lemon once the care got unaffordable. (Much like the Patriot Act after 9/11 restricted more freedoms than ever for Americans, and thus was a bit unpatriotic.)

Donald John Trump becomes the new President tomorrow. I wish him well, as I would any man elected to the position. Regardless of who our President is, he is our leader, regardless to some of the more recent protestations.

As for the Democrats who are boycotting, I really don’t care. It’s a political statement, nothing more or less, perhaps a dangerous one. I don’t even think it’s a terrible strategy, as it’s someone right out of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. If someone has a choleric (sick) temper, you irritate it. I see it for what it is: strategy.

As long as the protests don’t erupt into violence, fine. If they do, that’s another matter entirely.

That Plagiarism Thing

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Melania Trump, wife to the Donald..

I was seeing my mother off on her way to Europe early yesterday morning, and saw my Tweet Deck abuzz over Melania Trump’s plagiarizing of Michelle Obama.

For the record, this is most certainly not the first time a politician (or, in Melania’s case, a speaker at a political convention) in recent memory has done this. Vice President Joe Biden got caught mimicking a speech in 1987, which ruined his Presidential aspirations for a couple of decades. Rand Paul has done it. Hell, President Obama got caught lifting part of Deval Patrick’s speech in 2008.

In the latter part of my senior year of high school at Largo High, I had to do a term paper in English class. (I chose college athletics as a theme, because even back then I saw how corrupt the NCAA could be.) My English teacher (who was no slouch, she wrote articles for the St. Petersburg Times on occasion) sat us down before we began our work and told us all about plagiarism. What it was, why it was bad, and how she was going to be on the lookout for it from all of us. If caught, the consequences would be severe, maybe even the difference in terms of whether or not we graduated on time or not.

It’s a big time fumble for the Trump camp, yes. But the Democrats can’t cry foul too hardly. As bad as it is, I merely think it’s a bump in a much bigger road of deciding who are new President will be.

The Transgendered Are People Too

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I remember back in 2007 hearing about the transgender issue for the first time. The city manager of Largo Florida, Steve Stanton, wanted to become Susan Stanton by way of having a sex change. When I read about it in what was then the St. Petersburg Times, I thought somebody had slipped a copy of The Onion on my doorstep disguised as the Times.

At the time, the bulk of Largo City Council was conservative if not of an older generation, and considered Stanton’s sex change something akin to sacrilege. Upon hearing of Stanton’s wishes to become a woman, the he who was about to become a she was promptly fired by the city commission who declared the sex change to be a breach of trust. My opinion at the time was that Stanton should have been allowed to stay on as the city manager, and that changing genders in of itself was not a firing offense.

Nowadays, there are new issues revolving around transgender-ism. The biggest question being: if a transgendered person wants to use the bathroom, where does he or she go? Target, and American chain of department stores similar to Walmart, declared that transgendered persons could use the bathroom of their choice. That led to a series of protests targeting the department chain who beg to differ on the issue.

If it were up to me, the ruling I would make would be to use the bathroom appropriate for whatever sex organs the individual had. But, that simplifies a very complicated issue. Last week, President Obama made a similar ruling to Target’s, and stated that transgendered persons could use the bathroom of their choice.

That complicates matters even further. Can kids fully grasp the various issues regarding the transgendered? Do they have the mental capacity to understand the issue fully, and do so without hazing or harassing, for example, a boy who wishes to use the girls room?

True, when we as individuals live at home, many of us have bathrooms that are used by both genders. But, when we go out, the bathrooms are broken down by gender so that strangers of opposite genders don’t get the perverted ideas that aren’t supposed to happen in a family setting. Forcing an inter-gender environment in schools? That’s something that could be abused if not closely watched.

There are no real ways to solve this problem neatly and cleanly. I just hope that while the issue is being further deliberated, arguments are allowed to proceed without things getting violent. No one should be harassed over the gender a person identifies with. It’s just, as Lady Gaga once said, the way they were born.

A Game Changing Moment

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This graphic from @mshannabrooks underscores the value of the Presidency and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices that comes with it.

Word came late in the afternoon yesterday out of San Antonio, Texas that Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep at a ranch he was visiting on a hunting trip. He was 79 years of age.

Once the proper respects are paid and Mr. Scalia is laid to rest, this sets off quite a political battle. With Antonin’s passing, the vacancy means that until it’s filled, there will be eight Supreme Court justices, four appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. With an even number of justices, it makes 4-4 stalemates possible, in which case the ruling of the lower court is retained as the standing law.

President Obama can name the replacement to Scalia, in which event the Republican Congress is bound to put up a fight to reject whoever the nominee is, possibly by filibuster. That way, should the GOP nominee for President win, whoever that nominee for President is gets to name the Supreme Court nominee to replace Scalia sometime in 2017.

Obama can also punt the ball altogether and let whoever replaces him as President name the replacement. I can’t imagine that happening, lest the Democrats lose the judicial system advantage they would possibly gain.

All three governmental branches are now up for grabs.

Restoring Order In Our Schools

Yesterday, there was another school shooting, this one in Oregon that killed at least 10 innocent people. Ten people with their lives mostly ahead of them, trying to learn things to make their futures better. Now sadly, those 10 do not have futures at all, and they can’t get them back now that their lives have been so needlessly extinguished.

I saw President Obama a bit furious on TV later on in the day, and I can’t say I blame him for being angry. Political rhetoric aside, I think he’s a decent man, trapped in a political process where both sides want to score political points, sadly over the bodies of victims of these ridiculous shootings.

I was born in 1971. In that time frame, there were a great deal of airplane hijackings, so the authorities had the idea of putting metal detectors in the airports to deter that sort of thing. As we learned on September 11, 2001, that doesn’t always work. If someone wants to harm a whole bunch of people on an aircraft badly enough, they will find other ways of doing so.

One of the first school shootings took place in the high school of the city I currently live: Pinellas Park. On February 11, 1988, one kid opened fire, fatally wounding an assistant principal, wounding two others. Since then, there have been numerous tragedies, most notably including the Columbine attack in 1999 and Sandy Hook just before Christmas three years ago.

Maybe it’s time that schools get better protection. When I went to middle school and high school in neighboring Largo, there were always police officers assigned to the schools to head off trouble before it occurred. In early 1989, there was a drug bust at my school, with drug usage not exactly being this big secret of any kind. It always seemed a way of life, one I never took part in by my own choosing.

Personally, I think it’s time we put metal detectors in schools and colleges nationwide just as we have them in airports. It will be a culture shock for the kids, and it won’t prevent bad things from happening entirely. But those who want to learn deserve to be protected. With the GOP seemingly joined at the hip with the NRA rightly or wrongly, changes needed won’t come anytime soon, and change is needed right now.

I would love to hear from ANY politician who would object to putting metal detectors in the schools. Do you not want your kids to be safe while they learn? Do you not want the children of your votes to have a safe learning environment? Let them object to that, as I would love to hear their reasoning.

2015 Predictions!

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Years are defined by two sets of three holidays.

In the summer, it’s Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.  In the fall/winter, it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  Another such year has come and gone, and now the year of our Lord of 2015 takes center stage.

Here are the ground rules, such as they are:

I use the “Art Bell rules” for my predictions.  I do not predict disasters in specific terms, though I may predict such in general terms.  Nor do I predict deaths, or harm to any celebrities or political figures.  These predictions are meant to be fun, not meant to be a death pool.

With that in mind, here we go.

1.  Hillary Clinton will NOT run for President in 2016, but another woman, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, DOES run, and appears to be the front-runner as 2015 ends, even over Vice President Joe Biden.  Jeb Bush is the leading candidate on the GOP side.

2.  Michelle Obama gets a divorce from Barack Obama, despite pleas from the President to wait until early 2017 when he’s out of the White House.

3.  More social unrest in America follows after the events of Ferguson and NYC in 2014, with this year’s flashpoint being Cleveland, Ohio.  The cop accused of shooting a 12 year old boy who had a toy gun in 2014 will be acquitted, leading to more unfortunate racial divisions and strife.

4.  Chelsea Handler does a nightly talk show for Netflix, which gives the on-demand TV service record response and also causes hacking and bandwidth issues when she and all of her guests appear totally naked and unedited on screen in the debut show.

5.  New England defeats Dallas in the 49th Super Bowl in February to win their 4th NFL title in 14 years.  Bill Belichick retires as head coach from the Patriots and becomes the lead analyst on CBS’s coverage of the NFL just in time for their Super Bowl year culminating in February of 2016.

6.  In other sports, San Antonio defeats Atlanta to win the NBA title,  Boston rebounds from a last place finish last year to win the World Series against the San Diego Padres.  Pittsburgh defeats Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup. Alabama defeats Oregon to win football’s national title, with fans demanding an 8-team playoff as soon as possible. The Lightning will be the best of the three Tampa Bay franchises this season, with the Bucs going 8-8 and the Rays going 75-87.

7.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average will go over 20,000 for the first time ever before falling back down to about 16,000.  Gas prices will go under $1.50 a gallon before going back up near $2.00 at year’s end.

8.  The hottest reality show to debut this year will air on HBO and closely follow a member of the New York Police Department for the course of a year, and give the inside story as to how a near strike by the NYPD sometime in the summer is prevented by mayor Bill De Blasio.  The biggest bomb (again) will be a revival of Utopia that airs this time on the USA Network, and does even more poorly than the 2014 FOX version.

9.  Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally have their much ballyhooed and long awaited fight, with Mayweather easily winning a 12 round decision, after which Pacquiao retires from boxing to totally focus on his political career.  The fight revives interest in the sport amongst cable and network TV outlets, with two of the big four networks airing fight cards by year’s end.

10. The American Idol winner this year will be a 24 year-old cab driver from Las Vegas, Nevada.  He will “accidentally” release some insider details about his contract on the local FOX station that causes a legal fight between himself and the show’s producers, eventually won by the winner and causes the downfall of Idol in the coming years.

Hope you enjoyed the predictions, and the happiest of the new year to you and yours!