The Buck Stops Here

Harry S Truman (no the “S” has no period after it since it is not an initial, just a letter)

The polls are wrong. The news is fake. The town hall meetings are being staged by Obama’s people. The leaks in the White House are coming from Obama’s still present staff. The death of a navy seal in Yemen is Obama’s fault too, even though it was not he who authorized the attack. When is the president going to accept responsibility for the job he asked for? As Harry said: The Buck Stops Here. That was on Harry’s desk when he was in the oval office.

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The World War We Are Now Engaged In

We are now living through the next world war and the United States is ignoring it just as we ignored World War II until the bombs began to fall on us. We are directing our efforts against “the terrorist threat” while Russia is actually attacking us right now. It is well established that Russia carried out cyberattacks during our recent presidential election and is continuing to do so in European elections. The true extent of this “hacking” is yet to be established, but is likely to be greater, perhaps far greater than what is known now. According to the BBC report today (2/23) Russia has admitted to such attacks by their “information troops”. I attended the December 7th US Naval Institute conference: Defense Forum, “Competing Global Threats: What are the Priorities?” and was privileged to hear such capable speakers as Admiral Foggo, USN and General Neller, Commandant USMC among others. All agreed on two points: Russia is the greatest threat facing this country and cyber warfare will be one of the principal battle grounds. It is obvious that Russia is attacking this country and attacking our allies at this very moment and we are yet to even acknowledge the threat. Perhaps the reason is that the president of our country is a former “reality TV star” while the leader of Russia is the former director of their intelligence agency. Reality TV verses Reality

In the age of drones and fly by wire aircraft, information troops might easily turn our weapons against us. When the “Pearl Harbor” of this war happens I hope we are prepared.

The isolationist polices emanating from Washington right now are very much reminiscent of those that were popular prior to December 7th 1941. I would even suggest that the current attitude of striving to have Russia and Putin like us or at least like our president is very reminiscent of the policy of appeasement at Munich. I fear it will end in the same way now.

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Just another LIBERAL thought

The swirl around the political arena makes it clear to me that the fate of our country will be determined on social, or antisocial, media. While there probably is “fake news” from the mainstream media, everyone seems to trust twitter, even the POTUS. That’s a new word since “pot” was legalized: Pot Us is maybe good advice. I wonder if we should all try POT to help … never mind that.
Forget terrorism, immigration, trade and all that too. For those of you who follow the political wind, the main issue is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his ratings. If we really want to get rid of the POTUS, start watching Arnold and drive his rating through the roof. Write him fan letters, emails and tweets, and stop wasting time writing your congressman. That will drive the POTUS crazy.
Let’s start that Facebook page right now: watch Arnold!

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One of the Problems With the Current Election

One of the problems with the current election is the perception that the Republican Party won in national contest. That is not really the case. Republicans lost seats in both the House (247 down to 241) and the Senate (54 down to 52), and while Republicans are still in the majority they are not in as strong a position as before. It is remarkable for a party to loose in congress when it wins in the presidential race and this has happened in recent election only four times: Eisenhower in 1956, Clinton in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000. The popular vote went to the Democratic candidate, agreed to by everyone (almost). The Electoral College vote was for Mr. Trump without challenge. This has happened in three previous presidential elections: 1876 (Rutherford Hayes), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison), and 2000 (George W. Bush); and now in 2016. Mr. Trump will be president, but he is differing as much with Republicans as with Democrats as he consistently did during his campaign. Here I have an advantage as a Democrat: I already know he will disappoint me and my Republican friends still believe he can be trusted.
The most serious departure and concern for me is that Mr. Trump has outlined his economic policy that basically states that he will, by tariff (border tax) or by tax breaks, “persuade” companies to build in the United States. The long term loss of competitive edge by this policy is well known, but it is interesting to note here that what he proposes is a Centrally Controlled Economy, an economy directed by the government, as was practiced in the communist Soviet Union. I had thought that we had shown that market driven economies works better. That is how Mr. Reagan won the Cold War wasn’t it?

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Elizabeth Short in the State of North Carolina

Recently passed in the State of North Carolina was a statute requiring persons to use public restrooms consistent with their gender at birth. While the thinly concealed purpose of this statute is widely and justifiably the subject of comment and commentary, there is the underlying question as to what exactly is a person’s “gender at birth”? As in other such states, this is usually the gender on the birth certificate. There some problems with this, one being that the birth certificate has usually been filled out based on observational data of a new born, not genetic identification.

Let me now discuss Elizabeth Short. She, and I will call her female throughout this discussion, was born in Boston, MA on July 29, 1924 and lived in Medford, MA, Miami FL before dying in Los Angeles, CA on January 15, 1947. When she died, she was purported to be a rising star in Hollywood and was brutally murdered and dismembered. The murder attacked considerable notoriety but was never solved. The speculation surrounding her is fascinating, and I believe relevant to this issue. Elizabeth Short, or the “Black Dalia” (a name given her by the press because of her lustrous black hair, not her skin color) is suspected to have Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, AIS.

This syndrome affects only men, that is only XY chromosome persons, who produce the normal male hormone: testosterone. What distinguishes them is the result of a genetic deficiency of the testosterone receptor; they are “insensitive” to testosterone. Lacking any male hormone receptors they develop only female characteristics in utero and after birth. That is, they appear to be women in every sense except that they do not have any of the usual female sex organs. They lack a uterus and have a short blind vagina, but have normal “female” body habitus, fat distribution and breast development. Their gonads are testes, not ovaries, but are undescended since no scrotum develops. It is usually recommended that the testes be removed to avoid cancer, and replacement “female” hormones are given. These individuals cannot respond to male hormones at all of course.

So the question that obviously arises is “What gender are they?” The answer is equally obvious, they are women in every sense, appearance and otherwise. Specifically at birth they appear to be and are recorded on birth certificates to be women. Now comes the rub: is the birth certificate the final authority or the genetics? Does a mistaken assumption at birth determine a person’s gender? What if, as is the case with AIS, the two disagree? If an XY appears to be a woman, is she a woman? If an individual with AIS is a woman, what then of a surgically and hormonally adjusted person with an XY chromosomal pattern who appears to be a woman? I will offer an answer that begins with the phrase: “What acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is … “

What the state of North Carolina has attempted to make into a simple question is in fact not simple at all. A birth certificate does not determine gender.
One further note on Elizabeth Short; many feel that she was mutilated and murdered by an infuriated man when he found he could not have intercourse with her. This is just speculation, but is all too possible. The attitude expressed in North Carolina is ample proof of the inherent malice that prompted this speculation.

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The Greatest Electoral College Victories

The Greatest Electoral College Victories
I have tried to stay out of the recent political turmoil. More turmoil will add little, but the recent statement referring to this election’s Electoral College victory as an “electoral landslide” has prompted me to write. This will be about history, not about politics.

The victory, while unexpected, is not a landslide. The Electoral College numbers are: 304 to 227 or 56.51%. This does beat John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush on both of Mr. Bush’s wins (56.42%, 55.20%, and 53.16% and 50.14% respectively) among others. To round out the close races, it is worth noting that Thomas Jefferson was tied in the Electoral College with Aaron Burr in 1800 due to a peculiarity in its structure at the time which didn’t distinguish between votes cast for president and vice president. This flaw was promptly corrected. Also noteworthy is John Quincy Adams who actually became president after losing in the Electoral College in 1824. He received only 32.18% or 84 of 261 votes cast, while Andrew Jackson beat him receiving 99 votes (37.93%), but still less than a majority. Other candidates shared the rest. Both of these contests went to the House of Representatives to decide the outcome as is directed by the Constitution in the event that no candidate is given a majority.

As for truly remarkable victories, the upset of record must, I feel, still go to Truman’s victory over Dewey in 1948. Every poll predicted a landslide for Dewey and the Chicago Daily Tribune even announced Dewey’s victory on its front page. This faux pas was made iconic by Mr. Truman himself when he was photographed holding the headline high above a cheering crowd after his victory. That upset was numerically slightly better than the current election. Truman received 57.06% of the votes or 303 to 189. For all time victories, of course, no one has challenged the other President George, Washington that is. He received all the electoral votes in each of his elections. He had no opponents of course. James Monroe was the only one to come close, receiving all but one Electoral College vote: 232 of 231 cast, or 99.57% in the 1820 election, his second run. He also ran unopposed in this contest, the last president to do so. The Federalist Party did field a vice-presidential candidate, Richard Stockton, but was unable to find anyone to run against Monroe for the top spot. The Federalist Party never participated in a nation election again. The single vote against Monroe was cast for John Quincy Adams, to Adams’ embarrassment. It has been suggested that it was cast to prevent Monroe from matching Washington’s feat. William Plumer, an elector from New Hampshire, cast the only vote against Monroe and he always maintained that he simply liked Mr. Adams and thought he would be a good president. Adams achieved that office four years later as noted above in an election that proved to be far more contentious.

For the remainder of the elections some notables are worthy of mention. Franklin Roosevelt received 98.49% of the votes cast in the 1936 Electoral College to take third place behind Washington and Monroe. Ronald Raegan was given 97.58% of the Electoral College votes in his second run (1984) putting him just behind FDR and making him the fourth place winner. In recent elections Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Barack Obama all beat the current election’s margin of victory; all three achieved this in all of their electoral runs.

I cannot close, however, without mentioning the victor with the fifth best finish. He won 96.65% of the Electoral College votes, 520 to 17, with only Massachusetts and Washington D. C. casting votes for his opponent. The 1972 election was a true landslide for Richard Nixon, but alas he is far more famous for resigning from that term in office rather than face impeachment and almost certain conviction for High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Winning in the Electoral College does not always precedent a winning presidency I’m afraid.

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Beneath Her Feet

In this time of turmoil among men
it is fitting that liberty should be a woman

Beneath her feet, the words explain
Send me your tired, send me your poor
Send me all that yearn to be free
I will take them all, I open my door

The teeming refuse and huddled masses
Send them to this, this freedom’s land
Send them all, each one to me
Send them all, to my welcoming hand.

Now those whose fathers answered this call
Say: Erase her words. Leave us alone!
Take back her promise. Withdraw her hand.
Close this land with mortar and stone.

Still she stands, reaching toward the sky
Atop her hand, bright flame of gold.
But those who stand beneath her now
Her virtue for shining gold have sold

We will not be judged by how much we take,
but by how much we give

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