Does Trump Ever Say Anything Nice About Anyone?

Trump badmouths his own appointments, never compliments people who were there for whole term

Donald Trump is so toxic, not only does he constantly bad-mouth people who were fired or left during his administration, he never has anything positive to say about the people who stayed for the duration.

Many people have noticed the pattern that Trump brags he “only hires the best people”, things go badly (usually a combination of the person he hired having terrible ethics, massive conflicts of interest, and being callous and stupid, and Trump saying crazy things to make their jobs more difficult), then he fires them, and then he says nothing but bad things about them from then on out.

We could point out that if he was as smart as he says he is, he would find better people. Or he would admit that maybe since he is the boss that he just might be part of the problem.

I would like to point out something else that has not gotten a lot of attention. Like everything else about him it is a sign of dysfunction. Out of the 23 highest-level appointed positions in the executive branch, only about a half-dozen were there for his whole term. Five served until the end of his admistration [Note 1]:

  • Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin: 2017–2021
  • Secretary of Agriculture: Sonny Perdue: 2017–2021
  • Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross: 2017–2021
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson: 2017–2021
  • United States Trade Representative: Robert Lighthizer: 2017–2021

Two more served until they resigned after the January 2021 attempted coup:

  • Secretary of Transportation: Elaine Chao: 2017–2021
  • Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos: 2017–2021

To my knowledge, he has never said anything positive about any of these people.

Recently, he even insulted Chao on his Twitter knock-off [Note 2]:

Is McConnell approving all of these Trillions of Dollars worth of Democrat sponsored Bills, without even the slightest bit of negotiation, because he hates Donald J. Trump, or is he doing it because he believes in the Fake and Highly Destructive Green New Deal, and is will take the Country down with him? In any event, either reason is acceptabl. He has a DEATH WISH. Must immediately seek help and advise from his China loving wife, Coco Chow.

Notice how he sees other people’s actions as springing from their opinions of him, and cannot conceive that he might not be a criteria in someone’s decision-making progress.

Recently Bob Woodward released some tapes showing how stupid and horrible Trump is. Trump is suing Woodward over tapes, and says Woodward is a sleazy journalist. Then why did you grant him access?

There is something seriously wrong with someone who only has positive things to say about himself, the daughter he wants to bang, and dictators. It’s like that old saying: If you think everybody is a jerk, then you are the jerk. And yet half the country would literally die for him. Some just for the tax cuts. He would cast them aside just like he did with his loyal Cabinet members.

Note 1: If you think this group is the best and the brightest, you are a poor judge of character and intellect. And you might have a future in the Rethuglican Party. Note 2: For a guy who loves to brag about how educated he is, it is odd that he capitalizes random words. I think in German you should capitalize every noun. Why does Trump do it? I do Nazi the connection.

Big Jim says that most people who brag about their instincts usually have terrible instincts.

Image of Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse by Hans von Faber du Faur (1863 – 1940); image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under public domain.

Thoughts On Putin’s Invasion

Here are some random thoughts on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some people are saying it is the USA’s fault. This is the language abusers use, that the Mafia uses: “Why do you make me do this?” NATO was not forcing membership on former Soviet countries. They want to join NATO to get some protection from Russia. They didn’t ask to be part of the Soviet bloc after WWII. In the past decade, Russia has sent troops to Georgia, eastern Ukraine, and now they are trying to taker over all of Ukraine. Don’t complain that NATO is bad if Russia is doing the very thing that NATO was designed to prevent. Countries join NATO by invitation; countries join Russia by invasion.

A few people have defended Russia by saying it has always wanted a “buffer” between itself and foreign armies. This “buffer” would be other countries with people who have their own language, culture and history. Did all of the Russia-defenders consider that maybe these countries do not want to be Russia’s buffer?

This is the result of the sort of theocratic kleptocracy and autocracy that conservatives love. They all thought Putin was smarter than Obama and Biden, but how are things working out? Prioritizing praising the Dear Leader above all else has not worked out too well for the country and the military that some “American” conservatives love more than their own. Based on the analysis I have read, it can be hard to tell where one cause stops and another starts: authoritarianism, grifting, skimming contracts, suppressing dissent. When does cause become effect? Nevertheless, a lot of conservatives in this country seem to want this country to be more like Russian under Putin. Will they see where their vision takes a country? I predict a lot of them will either double down, or deny saying things they have been caught on tape saying. Sometimes they do both.

I remember when Obama was in office, a lot of people on Fox News wished we has a president who was a “strong leader like Putin.” I thought: If Obama was more like Putin, everyone on Fox News would get shot. George Carlin was half-right: it’s a small club, and most people who think they are in it are not.

Big Jim wishes more people had better pattern recognition skills.

Image of Saint Michael Weighing Souls, 14th century fresco, image from Website of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya of Barcelona,, assumed allowed under public domain.

Thoughts On Recent Political Events

If the Republicans are so upset about corruption in the Biden family, why didn’t they make a big deal about this when he was Vice President, when all of this was happening? They made a lot of noise about tan suits, feet on the desk, misleadingly edited videos, and Marines holding umbrellas. They had time to make up lies about “death panels” and to conduct multiple investigations into Hillary Clinton (for the same things over and over) only to come up empty-handed. Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma for several years. Why did this not come up until Joe Biden’s campaign started picking up steam?

For something even stupider, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst said that if Biden becomes president, the GOP will impeach him over his son’s board membership. I am not a lawyer, but I think you can only impeach an officeholder for their activities while in the office. I do not think you can impeach retroactively. And I do not think you can impeach someone for another person’s actions. Again, Senator Ernst, you took office in 2015. You had plenty of time to look into it. Perhaps, like HRC, the Bidens did not do anything illegal.

If Ukraine is so corrupt, why is it that no Republicans are talking about any other instances of corruption in that country aside from one involving Trump’s potential opponent in this year’s election? Again, Hunter Biden joined Burisma in 2014. Has everybody else in this country that is a cesspool of corruption been clean this entire time? Or are they afraid that Manafort will point the finger at them?

If they are so concerned with corruption, I assume that the USA will be suspending all aid to Israel now that Prime Minister Netanyahu is under indictment. See this article, and this article.

If Republicans really think nepotism is bad, why not look into Trump’s kids?

If Trump was so concerned about a four-year-old instance of corruption in Ukraine, was it absolutely necessary to tie it to aid? Should fighting corruption be done as a “favor”?

Why not release the actual recording and/or transcript of the “perfect” call? Why is it locked away?

Come to think of it, why hasn’t Trump released his tax returns, as every president and nearly every major candidate has done for almost 50 years? If he has nothing to hide, then everyone who says he is will look stupid. Why is Trump not taking advantage of what could be an excellent way to embarrass his political opponents? Instead of a using what he says is a sure-fire way to make every one of them look bad, he is fighting tooth and nail to keep it hidden. I think the kompromat has to do with money laundering, or something that would show he is not as wealthy as he claims.

I have started following a twitter account TomJChicago  who claims that Trump has dementia, and it is irreversible. Between his ego, his unimpressive intellect, his crimes and his dementia, I think Trump will implode. It may happen before the election. If it happens after the election, then I think things will get even more chaotic in the White House. All the corrupt people he has working for him who couldn’t manage a one-car funeral will starting fighting each other tooth and nail.

I think the political end-game for Trump is irrelevance, at best (if not jail time). Everything he touches dies. Everyone will see how toxic he is. I think he will be ignored and forgotten, as are most conservative heroes. As Jonathan Chait pointed out, the only GOP president who really met their ideals was W, and they never talk about him. Reagan would not win a primary today, yet they revere him. More accurately, they revere their myth of Reagan.

Nixon won in an electoral landslide, but a year after he resigned, you couldn’t find anyone who voted for him. Conservatives loved GWBush, but as his lying, stupidity and incompetence became too hard to ignore, they all dropped him. The Tea Party people insisted they protested GWB as much as they protested Obama, but that is a lie. A lot of people would not admit they ever voted Republican. “I’m not a Republican, I’m a conservative”. Suddenly, there were a lot of self-identified Libertarians in this country. More than there are now. All the consistent, revealed-truth-believing, delusional faux-deductive-reasoning Republicans thought Sarah Palin was their new savior, and she would keep the GOP in the White House for decades. Now none of them care about her. Steve Bannon was a master strategist. Has anybody seen him lately? He made a film about Palin. I never want anyone else to write about Bannon as some sort of genius or having any sort of intelligence or trying to understand his worldview. When it comes to picking good presidents, he is 0-2.

I am not saying they will stop being crazy. But when they can no longer deny reality, they get quiet. Until the next carnival barker comes along. Then the cycle repeats. “Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.” Yet they never see the pattern.

I predict that Trump will be part of this pattern. The lies, the corrupt cabinet, the money laundering, the haphazard foreign policy, the dementia: It will all bite them in the rear. I will even predict that not only will they deny supporting him, someone will make a video saying they never supported him while wearing a MAGA hat.

Republicans love to claim they are consistent in their beliefs, and liberals love to point out their hypocrisy. The thing is, Republicans ARE consistent in their beliefs, they just lie about what those consistent beliefs are. It’s not freedom, it’s not religion, it’s not capitalism, it sure isn’t science or rule of law. They love power and control, and they will do and say anything to keep it. They will change stance mid-sentence. We have always been at war with EastAsia, at least until we weren’t.

During the 2016 campaign, Cruz, Graham, Paul and many other Republicans said Trump would be a disaster. Almost all the Republicans in Congress refused to say his name. On Election Day 2016, Paul Ryan would only say he voted for “our candidate.” News flash guys: You were right the first time.

And I supposed after Trump implodes and you change your minds again, you will be right again.

Big Jim knows being honest with others starts with being honest with yourself.

Painting of the Adoration of the Magi by Guido of Siena (13th Century), assumed allowed under Public Domain.

More Thoughts On Assange

So Julian Assange was arrested this week. I cannot say I am surprised.

From what I have heard, he was not an easy house guest: arguing with staff, not bathing, smearing feces. He was getting on their nerves. And leaking documents about the president of Ecuador (also see here). And leaking documents about the Vatican. And commenting on the Catalan independence movement. He was staying in an embassy. Diplomats are supposed to keep their mouths shut and stick to business. Preferably their own. Diplomatic norms do not go out the window because some jackass thinks his cause is just.

Meanwhile, Russia still gets a pass from Wikileaks. Assange is not objective.

Maybe Ecuador President Moreno is totally corrupt. I don’t know; the INA Papers site is in Spanish. But what people need to understand is that while freedom and privacy and transparency are nice, they are not as important as intelligence. And Assange does not seem to have much of it.

He came to the government of Ecuador for help. They were keeping him out of jail. If you had a house guest acting the way Assange did, would you put up with it? If someone is keeping you out of jail, do not make them upset. Do not bite the hand that feeds you. He put himself at their mercy, and he did not seem to realize it.

Freedom doesn’t do you much good if you are stupid.

And to keep our freedoms, we need the people standing up for our rights to not be stupid.

So I have done a bit more digging, and it only confirms my thoughts that Assange is really really stupid.

It looks like he is being detained for helping Chelsea Manning obtain military documents. Not for publishing the documents. But for being involved in getting them.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo addressed this in a blog post. If someone gives you the documents, you are clear. If you are involved in getting them, you are not. (I do not know if the drop has to be anonymous.)

He is being indicted in the UK, and charged in the US. But as far as I can tell, his lawyer is Australian, and practices in the UK. Can she practice in the US? Maybe he should get American counsel, since he is being charged by the American government. Just a thought.

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have both entered the US since Russian spy Edward Snowden gave them classified documents. So no problem. (I know Greenwald’s husband was detained at Heathrow by the Unwanted Kingom; my only comment is: different country, different laws.)

We cannot replay history and try something different, but Wikileaks was already pretty famous in 2010 when all this happened. Perhaps Manning (or someone else) would have gotten the documents eventually anyway.

It is up to Assange to know the law. I am not a lawyer, so I do not know if you have to be a journalist to get these protections for document drops. But I think that Assange should have known better. I say to Assange and his defenders the same thing I say to Russian spy Snowden and his defenders: You do not deserve to be taken seriously if you go around claiming you are smarter than everybody else, and then insist you could not have done things any other way.

Big Jim says we should fight for our freedoms ourselves, and not rely upon or defend idiots with their heads up the GRU’s butt

Mongolian manuscript at the Art Institute of Chicago, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


Thoughts On Brexit

Here are a few thoughts on Brexit. I now I am a couple of days late and the original deadline was the 29th, but it looks like the Unwanted Kingdom got an extension.

It is irritating to hear English people go on and on about their “sovereignty”, when they ran an empire from an island they invaded. They never cared about anybody else’s sovereignty, so why should anyone care about theirs? Plus, let’s not forget, while in the EU, people in the Unwanted Kingdom still get to use their own currency and speak their own language. They got a lot of breaks from the EU. Not bad for them.

On the other hand, when your quest for “sovereignty” is guided by Russia, how sovereign are you really?  I say to the Brexiteers what I say to Republicans in the USA: The Russians are not doing this for you.

Conservatives (in the US and the Unwanted Kingdom) like to think they are pragmatic realists, git-r-done types who know how the world works and run all types of organizations. (Sometimes it sounds like a fixed mindset; they cling to this image regardless of the results.) They have been wanting to leave the UK for years. They triggered the referendum. They have had two years to work things out. Yet they seemed to be voting a couple of times a day up until the March 29th deadline. This should have been smoother. The “git-r-done” chaps should have had a plan. For something they wanted. It is kind of like the votes for ACA repeal and the circus attempt at repeal and replace here in the USA. It is hard to tell if they appear incompetent because they just say what voters want to hear and can’t deliver when it’s time to put up or shut up, or if they overestimate the complexity of things and it’s all just raw, natural stupidity. (Parliament recently had to adjourn due to a leaky roof in the House of Commons building.)

I have read a few comments on different sites predicting that ten years after leaving the EU that the Unwanted Kingdom will have a stronger economy than today, and the EU will stagnate. I do not know what will happen or how the EU will do, but I predict that stagnation is probably the best-case outcome for the Unwanted Kingdom. They cannot manage something that they initiated and is totally predictable. And I doubt that other countries will give them a break on trade deals. They are intentionally causing a lot of people unnecessary work, and they want everyone to think they are doing us all a favor. (BTW, that is also a good definition of an asshole.)

Part of the problem is the Brexiteers have been lying from the beginning. They said the Unwanted Kingdom would be able to save millions of pounds a week and put it into the National Health Service. They later denied saying that. The were acting like bozos during the negotiations, telling the British public that “we are going to give them nothing that they want, and they are going to give us everything that we want, and they are going to like it.” That was the first year. Then the second year they all acted like those meanies in Brussels were kicking the UK out of the EU.

The rot started from the very beginning, with David Cameron. He started the referendum to appease the UKIP. He was a Tory, so he should know that if you give a conservative an inch, they will act entitled to a mile. Plus, he initiated a referendum for a change that he did not want. The Scottish independence referendum failed, which put the Scottish nationalists in the position of not getting what they wanted, but not being any worse off. They pushed for a change that they wanted. Cameron got a change that he did not want.

And then he promised to be bound by the results of the referendum, even though it was legally non-binding. Mistake number two. Another structural flaw is that it did not require a supermajority. Maybe a change this big should require a bigger percentage than 51.89%. All the Brexiteers keep going on about freedom, and democracy, and the will of the people, but this barely squeeked by.

And just like the USA, rank and file conservative voters are going against their own self-interest, voting for rich conservatives who do not care about them at all. And if you are all sooooo concerned about globalism and sovereignty, maybe you should do something about the City Of London. Brexiteers are ranting about the globalists in the EU, but London is the real ground zero of globalism. Technically it is the City of London Corporation, but the phrase “City of London” does not refer to all of London. Just the onshore tax haven part. One could call it The Worshipful Company of Liars, Cheaters and Thieves. They do not care about rural England anymore than they care about rural anywhere else.

Josh Marshall pointed out that some Brexit campaigners said that “[t]he world hungered for a strong Britain on the global stage.” Again, this is total delusion. Granted, a lot of speak their language, but not by choice. Nobody loves them, nobody respects them. Never did. Never will. If you want to go through life thinking you are special, you can do that, but nobody is obligated to agree with you or accommodate you.

Another good article is at here on the antipope site.

Big Jim does not like people who intentionally cause problems for other people.

“The Annunciation”, El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614), in a private collection, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On Recent Events

Here are a few thoughts about some recent political events.

First off, James Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense.

He has been lauded as the “adult in the room.” I think this is bad. There are a few issues with Mattis. Just as there were with John McCain, and George HW Bush. We need to stop letting people off the hook (even for minor infractions) just because they are not as bad as Donald Trump or anyone else in his orbit.

For one thing, I do not think he should have been defense secretary. He has not been out of the military long enough . If civilian control of the military is that important, there should not be any waivers. Granted, nobody else wanted the job. And he is not as crazy as John Bolton. But being more sane that Bolton is like being younger than dirt: That is a broad range.

At least Mattis is not a total tool like John Kelly. He lied about a speech given by representative Frederica Wilson, even after a video surfaced proving she was right and he was wrong. Nothing says you are part of a cult like doubling down on a lie even when the evidence is there for all to see. I don’t think Mattis looks down upon people who were never in the military, like Kelly seems to, or spout nonsense like, “In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our servicemen and -women do.” Does John Kelly have any idea who he was working for? Has anyone in the Trump family ever cared about anyone but themselves? And if Kelly took not just one, but two jobs from Trump, then what does that say about him and his feelings about service? Enjoy your retirement in Virginia, jackass. But again, not getting sucked into Neo-Confederate BS is a low bar to clear.

Mattis was involved in Theranos, both during his time in the military, and was on the board afterwards. So he is a bit swampy.  And he seems too eager to go after Iran, even though a lot of Saudis have done some shady things in the US and gotten help from the Saudi government getting out on several occasions and they are spreading Wahhabism through out the Middle East. And let’s not forget our good friend Mohammad Bone Saw.

Working for Trump has been a black mark for everyone else who has done it. Why should Mattis get a pass? He is not some 18-year old out of boot camp who probably only knows the chain of command a few levels up from his sergeant. When you are offered a Cabinet-level position, you know who is offering it to you.

His resignation letter contrasted the US to Russia and China. Did he just realize that he is working for the new POTUS? (These days, “POTUS” does not mean “President of the United States”, but “Putin’s Operative in the United States.) Trump bad mouths Democrats, half of his constituents, many foreign leaders, but gives dictators a pass. Trump has a presumption of guilt for most Americans, and a presumption of innocence for foreign authoritarians. I don’t know what those geniuses at the Hoover Institute talk about all day, but roughly 65,853,514 people could have told him how this was going to work out.

The Trump administration is a disaster. He lost the popular vote, but acts like he is god-emperor. Let’s not use Mattis or anyone else as a contrast. Let’s not let people off the hook for their own misdeeds simply because they are not the worse person in the world (that would be Donald Trump). The President should not need an adult in the room. The room should be full of adults. Seriously, Mr Smarty Pants General, what did you think was going to happen?

In other news, Elizabeth Warren has started an exploratory committee to run for President in 2020 (the old kind of POTUS, not the Russian kind we have now). And, predictable, Trump called her “Pocahontas”. Again. For a guy who is supposed to be soooo smart, he doesn’t display much capacity for thought.

Elizabeth Warren thought she was part Native American because her grandmother told her she was. When you grow up in Oklahoma, and your grandmother tells you that you are part Native American, that is a good reason for thinking you are Native American. DNA was first discovered in 1953. Elizabeth Warren was born in 1949. So all these conservative wack-jobs insisting she take a DNA test are a bit unfair. DNA was not a household term when Elizabeth Warren was growing up. Heck, her grandmother was probably born in the 1800s. Using DNA in court is a recent thing. To expect Elizabeth Warren’s grandmother to have known things about DNA then that we know now is just sloppy thinking. Pro tip: When you challenge someone for evidence, and the evidence gives you an answer you do not like, admit you were wrong. Don’t reject the test as fake like the MAGA crowd did. Just admit you don’t like her and leave it at that. And seriously, is that all you got?

Interesting fact: The current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation is only about 3% Cherokee.

And finally, there is the shutdown. The Trump Shutdown. Let’s stop blaming both sides. This is the Trump Shutdown. Make America grind to a halt.

He had a GOP House and a GOP Senate for two years to get this wall started. If it such an important campaign promise to his base, why did he wait until he knew he was going to get a Democratic House that would not give him everything that he wants? He made these threats while the GOP still had the House. Why wait? They had no problem getting a bunch of corporate judges in, or tax cuts for the wealthy that do not do anything for anybody else. I guess the wall is just like repealing the ACA: They can’t really do it because then they can’t use it to score points with voters.

I have read a few articles that some conservatives are hoping to use this to permanently shrink the government. If so, then why was this not mentioned during the campaign? I do not think Trump started this shutdown with any long-term plan. People may not like the idea, but I think the government is a bigger part of our lives than people think, and before too long, this shutdown will start to hurt a lot of people. The feds are involved in things like air traffic control and food inspection. I didn’t sign up to spend every day putting my life in the hands of fate and acting like the past 5,000 years never happened. A lot of economic data comes from the Department of Commerce, which is currently shut down. I think big business is going to want to see all that data keep coming in. IPOs are on hold. I wonder if dividends will still come through since the SEC is shut down.

Another thing that the federal government funds is scientific research. So while China is growing plants on the far side of the moon, our government is run by a carnival barker who kills everything he touches. I think one of the Founding Fathers said the USA was more likely to be destroyed from within that from without. That is what we are seeing.

Big Jim is starting to think that some people actually want to be taken advantage of.

“The Immaculate Conception”, one of many by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) at the El Paso Museum of Art; assumed allowed under Fair Use.

The Bush And The Dead

The recent death of George HW Bush has sparked a lot of discussions about many topics: His presidency, his personality and the contrast with Trump, and whether it is wrong to “speak ill of the dead”. Much of the discussion has bordered on hagiography (in the non-ecclesiastical sense of the word). I don’t think he was that great of a president, and I do not think that saying so is “speaking ill of the dead”.

Whenever Trump fires someone from his administration, he says that they are “some sort of Democrat”. As if being a Democrat is a bad thing. And if Trump doesn’t like Democrats, why is he putting them in his cabinet? Trump’s behavior is boorish and crass. We had nice presidents up until January, 2017. Part of the glowing coverage of Bush 41 is that he looks good in contrast to Trump. I think this is a mistake. Bush 41 had some bad policies, and his son had worse policies. Going through life saying, “At least he’s not as bad as the last guy” is a recipe for disaster. We should not normalize or accept bad policy. We should not excuse bad policy from a president just because he can act like an adult in public.

What about Bush 41 did I not like? First of all, this guy was a Republican. With all the nastiness that entails. He helped bring John Birch theocrats into the party. He said Reagan’s policies were “voodoo economics”, then embraced them. He was right the first time, and should have stuck to his guns. He brought negative campainging to a new low with the Willie Horton ads.

If you don’t think Republicans are nasty people, then consider that even in his so-called repentance, Lee Atwater never really accepted responsibility for his actions. He talked about a “spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society”, how our society was warped by “its ruthless ambitions and moral decay”. No, Mr Atwater, the problem was not society, it was you. You did that. You chose to be mean, spiteful and deceitful. And Mr Bush, you paid him to do it.

Bush 41 was part of the trend by Republicans to make “liberal” a dirty word. He said Michael Dukakis was a “card-carrying member of the ACLU”, as if that is a bad thing. Conservatives have trouble with the concept that you cannot love your country if you hate half of the people in it.

The religious fanaticism, the hatred of the poor, the deification of finance over all else: Bush 41 was a part of that. He was a part of taking the Republican Party on the path of decay. He was a part of the trend that put party over country. This man that we were told was a class act either never saw what was in front of him, or never spoke up against it.

Granted, he did raise taxes on the rich. Lower taxes are nice, but people need to get in their heads that cutting taxes and raising spending is not a good idea, even when presidents you like do it. So GHWB did the right thing and defied his party. Once. But more often than not he consented to the dark side.

His invasions of Panama and Kuwait were based on lies. They had nothing to do with freedom or democracy. He got rid of Noriega because Noriega was making the US look bad, and Kuwait was all about oil. The USA thought they could control those guys, and want us all to be shocked when it did not work out. And he left the Shiites and Kurds in Iraq to the whims of Saddam. The US government sold Saddam weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam was worse than Hitler, why leave him in power? Granted, now it’s obvious why they left Saddam in place, but why use the “worse than Hitler” line? Why not just say it’s about oil? Why not just say it’s about the commodity that makes the world run? The world might be a better place if we were honest about the fact that we act more in line with our interests than our ideals. Yet this supposedly great man would have none of it.

Many pointed to his time in the CIA. He was only director for a year. There have been many unproven rumors that he was involved with them much longer. Even if he wasn’t, Operation Condor was still nasty. In all seriousness, why does the USA try to eliminate radical left-wingers, yet reward radical right-wingers?

Frankly, he was a bad person in a bad family. His father and grandfather helped finance the Nazis. His son was the worst president until the next Republican (which doesn’t exonerate him). His wife was a nasty, mean bitter woman.

My mother thought that perhaps the death of their first daughter was why Barbara Bush was a mean, nasty, bitter woman. I say: so effing what? If your child dies, that is your problem. You have no business taking it out on everybody else. I am not giving them or anyone else any leeway on this. They were and are a terrible family, terrible people.

They display typical Republican logic: They have no problem judging other people. But when something bad happens to them, then it’s all “poor me, poor me, poor me”. If one of your children dies, and you still cannot grasp that things in life can just happen to someone else, then you really are a terrible, terrible person.

As an aside: My mother also wondered how it made the surviving daughter feel to hear everyone always say how wonderful her dead sister was, and to be compared to her. Granted, I am not them. Maybe the universe said to them, “Your dead daughter is still under warranty. Here is a replacement. Do not treat her as a separate individual. She’s just a consolation prize, nothing more.” I don’t know what goes on in the brain of Dorothy Bush, but I would guess that being asked “Have you stopped beating your wife?” every day of your life would get old quickly. I assume that being measured against someone who is not even here would be tiring. Maybe being compared with a dead toddler who never could never disapoint her parents was okay with her. It’s a terrible way of parenting. Sort of like blaming your kids for how poor you were. The only thing worse than living in the past is trying to make someone else live in a past that they were not a part of.

GWB was a terrible person and a terrible president. Jeb was a terrible person and a terrible governor. His daughter’s drug problems were “a private matter” while a lot of people rotted in Florida jails for doing the same thing. Neil Bush has been involved in a lot of shady deals. Marvin and Dorothy are the only ones who do not seem to have any controversy.

A lot of people are upset that Bill Clinton pardoned Mark Rich who had given a lot of money to the DNC. Yet a lot of people seem to forget that GHWB pardoned a lot of people who could have gotten him into trouble over the Iran-Contra scandal.  It is amazing that Iran-Contra did not get any mention in the aftermath of GHWB’s death, considering how upset a lot of Republicans are about the nuclear deal with Iran. GHWB pardoned someone who could probably have landed him in jail, yet we are supposed to believe that he is different than Trump.

Is it wrong to criticize GHWB? Am I “speaking ill of the dead”?

One of the possible origins of the taboo of “speaking ill of the dead” is people were afraid what others will say about them after their own death. I know that if most people think of me at all, they do not think of me highly. People will think whatever they want, and there is not much I can do about it. When you are a man that women want to hate no matter what, you learn things.

Another possible origin of the taboo is that the dead person cannot defend themselves. If you do not to be criticized in death, be a good person in life. GHWB had 94 years to not be a terrible person. If someone wrote a critical article about GHWB a few months ago, nobody would have complained or thought it was out of line. If it was okay then, it should be okay now. Besides, it’s not like a former president would care what a random blogger writes. People who say we should not speak ill of the dead are like people who get tattoos saying “Only god can judge me”: They usually deserve it.

Saying that a bad person did bad things is not speaking ill of them. It is just speaking the truth. This guy was president. He made decisions that affected the whole world, most of whom had no say in his rise to power. He was a terrible parent who raised terrible children who themselves made bad decisions that also went on to have bad affects on the world. It is better for us to understand the world as it is than hide behind fake courtesy and outdated taboos.

I did not ask him to appease the religious right. I did not ask him to raise a man-child and help his sons’ political careers. The basic story of the past thirty years of the USA is that the conservative movement has brought together the theocrats and the moneymen who care more about party than country, who care more about power than humanity. GHWB chose to be a part of this. He could have walked away. The first buildings on the famous Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine was built by his great-grandfather in the late 19th century. This family had wealth. He did not need to be president. He chose it. He chose to ally himself with power-hungry zealots and money changers of the temple who just want to watch the world burn.

And let’s stop the nonsense that GHWB and Trump are different in kind as well as degree. Trump is the natural conclusion of the Republicans pushing fear and hate, the same trend that GHWB was a part of. Tax cuts for the rich, putting corporations over people, wacko judges, hatred for the poor, hatred for those who are different. It’s the same merging of church and bank today as it was then.

Big Jim does not think the sins of today should excuse the sins of the past.

“The Fall of Icarus” by Jacob Peter Gowy  (c. 1610 – after 1644 and before 1664), at Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Another Glibertarian Encounter

This guy claimed he was sick of “both parties”, but he spent a lot of time criticizing Democrats and defending Republicans. He also said he generally votes for Republicans. But don’t call him a Republican, because he is so not a Republican! (I think he is on one of the panels of the “24 Types of Libertarian“, but NOT the Libertarian Bingo Card.)

He went on and on about how he was sooooo much smarter than his co-workers who loved Beto O’Rourke, but could not explain why they are voting for him. (Hint: He is not a theocrat, as Cruz is and his father most certainly is; if you are an atheist, that should be good enough.) He had some nice things to say about Ted Cruz.

Personally, I do not think Ted Cruz is as smart as everybody thinks he is. One of the reporters on the Texas Tribcast said she thought that Cruz was smart because he will always give the same answer to the same question. That is not intelligence, that is rigidity. He seems to have the same opinions at 47 as he did at 17. There is the type of intelligence that can think of 100 ways to try to get a square peg into a round hole, and there is the type of intelligence that realizes pretty quickly that maybe trying to put a square peg into a round hole is not a good use of your time. Ted Cruz seems to have a lot of the former.

Granted, like most conservatives, Ted Cruz can show some plasticity at times. Ted Cruz loves to drone on and on about how we should follow the intent of the Founding Fathers. Yet after rulings on gay marriage and the ACA that he did not like, Ted Cruz thought there should be retention elections for the Supreme Court. I guess following the Founders is fine up until you get a ruling you do not like. (A note to originalists: If you can change your mind when you do not like how things are going, then don’t get upset when the rest of us change our minds when we don’t like things.)

Actually, I do think conservatives are consistent. They want power, and to make people they do not like suffer. If they seem to be contradicting themselves, use “Cruz’s Razor” and see how it compares to that.

Anyway, like most conservatives, Cruz might seem smart, but ultimately he believes in his revealed principles, and will ignore any evidence against them.

This glibertarian said he was basing his opinion of Ted Cruz’s intelligence based on what he heard from Cruz’s professors at law school. I said I was basing my opinion of his stupidity based on Cruz’s words and actions. The glibertarian had no response to that.

He also said he liked Ted Cruz because Cruz fights for his beliefs. I guess he does, if he believes he is a liar, his wife is ugly, and his dad assassinated JFK. Not only did Cruz not stand up for himself against Donald Trump, he asked Trump to campaign for him in the recent election. If Ted Cruz won’t stand up for himself or his family, what makes you think that he will stand up for you?

I have tried to keep an open mind about libertarians, but a lot of times if you keep them talking, they are just Republicans who do not want to call themselves Republicans.

Big Jim will stand up for his beliefs, but won’t push them on others.

Stela of Amenemhat and Hemett, Middle Kingdom, early Dynasty 12 (about 1956–1877 BC), at the Art Institute Of Chicago, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On Political Machines

In his testimony last week, Brett Kavanaugh went on about shadowy left-wing forces trying to take him down.

The irony is that Hillary Clinton spoke of a “vast right-wing conspiracy“. A conspiracy implies secrecy, and frankly the right wing was never too quiet about their hatred of the Clintons. It was more of a vast right-wing machine or network.

There are the Koch Brothers, who fund many think tanks and advocacy groups, including the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Institute and ALEC. There is Richard Mellon Scaife, who, like the Kochs, got his start as a hardscrabble newborn in a rich family. One of the largest banks in the country is The Bank of New York Mellon; he is part of the Mellon family. (Seriously, what is it with conservatives who are born into wealthy families, and then turn around and lecture the rest of the world about self-reliance?) And there is Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer. (She has a very large forehead; I guess her head needs to be bigger to contain all the resentment she feels for having a wealthy father.)

Brett Kavanaugh himself spent a large part of his career as a right-wing operative. He worked with Ken Starr. He was part of the Florida mis-count. He drafted many of George W Bush’s signing statements (also see here). Like debt, signing statements are one of those things conservatives are only bothered about when a Democrat does them.

I think that Kavanaugh is committing a fallacy that a lot of conservatives commit: Because there is a right-wing machine, there MUST be a left-wing machine; because conservatives are willing to lie to get power, liberals MUST be doing the same thing. Kind of like how many drunks like Kavanaugh think that because they can’t function without a lot of booze that everybody else must need it as much as they do.

A lot of conservatives honestly think that nobody ever really disagrees with them. Anybody expressing a contrary view must be paid off. George Soros seems to be a favorite. It was funny after all the marches last year that a lot of people were joking that they never got their check.

Kavanaugh said the allegations against him are all lies and are motivated by anger about the 2016 election. It’s funny how there were no allegations about Neil Gorsuch. I guess George Soros was on vacation that month. If there was any nomination that people would go to any lengths to stop, it would be Gorsuch’s. His seat was stolen from Merrick Garland. You could say it was stolen from all the people who voted for Obama. Some people vote for President because of the judicial branch.

So there is no left-wing machine to match the one on the right. But what if there were? They spend billions to spread their lies, they gerrymander, they accept help from the Russians; all that effort, yet they still don’t get the percentage of votes commensurate with the disparity in funding. Trump won by 85,000 votes in about three states.

Maybe we the people should build a left-wing machine. I think we would crush them.

Kavanaugh complained that the Ford charges were sprung on him at the last minute. Kavanaugh was nominated by a president who did not receive a majority vote, but acts like he is god-emperor. Most people did not vote for Trump. Most people do not like him. Most people do not want him to be president. Kavanaugh was sprung on us.

Big Jim doesn’t like whiners who think they are big tough guys.

 “Two angels and two devils” by Paolo Uccello (1397 – 1475),  assumed allowed under Fair Use.

“Both Sides” On Steroids

I know Driftglass has the market cornered on pointing out the “both sides” nonsense. But Tyler Cowen has a column on Bloomberg that takes it to the next level.

The title is “Fear Climate Change — and Our Response to It“. The subtitle is “Global warming will be expensive, and humanity’s irrational reaction may make it even more so”.

Humanity has not had an irrational reaction to climate change. Conservatives have manipulated people, distorted the debate, and have been standing in the way of action for decades. James Hansen testified in front of Congress about climate change in 1988. That means that all the free-marketeers who don’t want the government telling them what to do have had three decades to come up with solutions. To this day, conservatives like to make jokes about Al Gore, a guy who has not been in office since January, 2001, more than 17 years ago.

He talks about Brexit, which was brought to us by conservatives. They lied about how easy it would be, and they have been mucking up the negotiations since the vote. He writes, “It would have been better if the British had responded to their country’s problems in a less extreme way, or simply learned to live with the problems they had.” No, it would have been better if conservatives did not lie as easy as they breathe. “The British” do not all want Brexit. Even many who voted to leave now realize they were lied to and that it will be a disaster.

He mentions Trump, and then goes on to write about how our discourse “has become less rational and technocratic”, and “the harsh, non-sympathetic tone of the debate will further corrode American politics”.

Then he wraps up complaining about how much it will cost to do something about climate change. It would cost less if there was not a network of groups devoted to denying climate change and lying to people about the strength of the scientific consensus. Those groups are funded by conservatives, the Koch Brothers in particular.

One of the organizations funded by the Koch Brothers in the Mercatus Center, a think tank at George Mason University run by Tyler Cowen. They claim that they do not let their funding dictate their findings, but they did agree the Koch organization have a say in academic appointments at George Mason University. Mercatus likes to go back and forth about whether or not they are part of George Mason University depending on what they want. When they want some prestige, they are part of GMU, which is a public university. But if you file a state freedom of information request, then they are not.

Their annual reports simply list who is in charge, and give no information on who funds them.

This is “both sides” in steroids. It’s not the GOP that is causing problems; it’s “we”, “the world”. I guess Upton Sinclair was right: It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary and donations from his inherited-wealth benefactors depend upon his not understanding it.

That version of the quote is The Tyler Cowen Special Edition.

Big Jim knows that while both sides spin, one side is far worse than the other.

“Chaos” by Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), assumed allowed under Fair Use.