Remembering the Inaugural

Perhaps this is a good time to think back to January 20, 2017 when the current occupant of the White House gave his first address to the nation as a first-time office holder.

Here are a few excerpts—offered without comment—as we reminisce about the past three-and-a-half years.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions. Together, We Will Make America Strong Again. We Will Make America Wealthy Again. We Will Make America Proud Again. We Will Make America Safe Again.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Science Marches Onward

COVID-19, protests in the streets, deployment of secret federal paramilitary personnel into our streets and the general idiocy of the current occupant of the White House and his GOP toadies… well, really important news can be overlooked.

After much study, researchers have finally determined how many hot dogs a human person can possibly eat in ten minutes. Years of gathering data from Nathan’s Famous’s famous annual fourth-of-July hot-dog-eating contest, have produced the definitive answer: eighty-three.

This is good news. We now know that it’s possible the current record can be broken. Thirteen-time champion Joey Chestnut bested his own world record this year by consuming seventy-five hot dogs—with buns—in the allotted time. Miki Sudo set the women’s record, forty-eight and-a-half hot dogs, for her seventh consecutive win.

To provide some perspective, scientists calculated other animals’ capacity, with adjustment for body mass. Grizzly bears can eat eight hot dogs per minute, but only are able to last six minutes, so can’t match Mr. Chestnut’s record. A gray wolf, however, is capable of consuming eleven per minute. Researchers did not reveal how they were able to measure bears’ and wolves’ hot dog eating talents.

The key facility for speed-eating success is the stomach’s ability to stretch. Winners have stomachs that are able to stretch and increase volume to take in more food. Also-ran competitors, on the other hand, have stomachs that don’t stretch. When capacity is reached, the stomach must pass contents into the intestines before it can take in more. The intestines, well, you know… Joey Chestnut apparently has been able to increase his stomach’s stretchiness and thus surpass his previously-set records. Maybe someday he will confound science and eat eighty-four hot dogs in ten minutes.

Being Like Venezuela

Conservative pundits and G.O.P. politicians are quick to point to Venezuela and its erstwhile President Hugo Chavez as the definitive example of the failure of socialism. The country has suffered years of rampant inflation and social unrest.

Under Chavez’s embattled successor, Nicolás Maduro, crime, inflation and poverty have increased. Maduro’s 2018 reelection is considered to be fraudulent. Several countries, including the United States, have refused to recognize his presidency. Russia and China support the Maduro government.
In 2017 Maduro set up the Fuerza de Acción Especial de la Policía Nacional Bolivariana (Special Actions Force), FAES. The federal paramilitary police force’s ostensible purpose was to “combat crime and terrorism,” and wrest control of poor neighborhoods from gang infestation.

Caracas, Venezuela

The names of top commanders of Mr. Maduro’s special police force, and who exactly has been invited into its ranks are unknown. FAES units patrol Venezuela neighborhoods dressed in black, with balaclavas covering their faces, concealing identities. The forces are accused of breaking into homes without warrants, taking people into custody without charges and allegedly have killed dozens of people.

Here in Portland, street demonstrations, initially to protest police brutality of Black persons, have occurred every night for two months. Some opportunists, predominately young white males, have used the protests as background for looting, property damage and graffiti.

The current occupant of the White House grasping at anything to gain support for a failed presidency in the upcoming election, is following Maduro’s strategy. Federal “police” dressed in camouflage, with no identifiers other than “POLICE” have detained people and taken them away in unmarked vehicles, fired tear gas and shot peaceful demonstrators with “less-than-lethal” weaponry. Their purported purpose is to protect the federal buildings in downtown Portland. The secret police, untrained in crowd control, come from the Department of Homeland Security border patrol.

Portland, Oregon (Doug Brown via AP)

The COWH is doubling down on deploying secret police. “We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” he said. “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job.” And there will be more to come. “We’re not going to let New York, and Chicago, and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore — and Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”

P.D. East & The Petal Paper

The demise of print media has been a given for years, their death throes fodder for late-night comedians. Magazine and newspaper circulation has declined drastically over the past decade, as have advertising revenues. Craig’s List has eviscerated the want ads and shrinking readership has made print unattractive to advertisers.

Rather than get news from a paper thrown onto a wet lawn, people are getting information from the Internet, where much content is free and they can control what their eyes and ears take in. No need to subject oneself to news one doesn’t like.

In the U.S., newsroom employment is half of what it was ten years ago. The list of deceased newspapers is long and the number of cities with more than one paper can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

A hedge fund, whose assets include the National Enquirer, has purchased the venerable but bankrupt McClatchy Co. and its roster of estimable newspapers. The new owners are expected to follow private-equity strategy by selling assets such as real estate and inflicting further layoffs.

Investment guru and Berkshire Hathaway C.E.O. Warren Buffett got his start delivering newspapers. His company had been acquiring newspapers for years. Buffett, famous for keeping investments for the long term, recently sold off Berkshire subsidiary BH Media Group. BH owned seventy newspapers. Vice-chairman Charlie Munger said, “Technological change is destroying the daily newspapers in America. The revenue goes away and the expenses remain and they’re all dying.”

With the incessant torrent from the Internet and twenty-four-hour-cable-news what are we missing? Small-town, local news and public-service announcements—what we who think we’re so sophisticated used to find amusing—go unreported as the means for disseminating local goings-on are disappearing.

But let’s take the Wayback Machine to Mississippi in the 1950s.

Continue reading “P.D. East & The Petal Paper”

Conservative Principles

Disclosure of recipients of Paycheck Protection Program largesse surprised no one. A lot of money was distributed, as expected, to the well-connected. But a couple organizations merit special mention.

The Washington Policy Center, a Seattle-based conservative think tank, makes its philosophy clear:

“We don’t receive government money. We don’t ask for it and we wouldn’t take it even if it were offered. WPC relies on the generous support of our donors — people like you who understand that free-markets are superior to a government rigged economy, and liberty is the air that a free people must breathe.”

Freedom Foundation, opposed to government spending and taxation and a relentless opponent of labor unions:

“We have a vision of a day when opportunity, responsible self-governance, and free markets flourish in America because its citizens understand and defend the principles from which freedom is derived. We accept no government support.”

It’s reassuring to see organizations hold firm to their fundamental philosophies.

Just kidding. Each of these took between $350,000 and $1,000,000 of government money.

Law & Order vs. Chalk

The eastern-Washington City of Selah, home to TreeTop Apple Juice, will not abide repeated lawbreaking. The Selah city attorney has put a resident on notice, threatening prosecution if they continue to use chalk to draw Black Lives Matter art and slogans on the dead-end street in front of their house. The City Attorney sent a letter to the homeowners notifying them that using chalk to draw on a public street constitutes gross misdemeanor malicious mischief and they cannot “create unauthorized graffiti on public property with impunity.”

BLM protests have increased since the Selah City Administrator went on record describing Black Lives Matter supporters as “devoid of intellect and reason.”
The City Attorney announced, “Selah is not Seattle. The laws will be enforced in Selah.”

I’ve been to Selah (population 7,147). It definitely is not Seattle.

Meanwhile, Yakima County, home to Selah, is a hot spot of surging COVID-19 infections. A Yakima City Council member who has asserted that healthy immune systems fortified by vitamins can safeguard people from the virus, has been an organizer of demonstrations protesting business restrictions, mask-wearing and social distancing.