Four Questions for Your MD

Christer Mjåset|TEDxOslo 4 questions you should always ask your doctor

What we know from research is that one out of five of you, 20 percent, will change your opinion on what to do. And by doing that, you will not only have made your life a whole lot easier, and probably even better, but the whole health care sector will have benefited from your decision.

Presidential Tax Returns Revisited.

Back in 2016 I lamented that we didn’t have Trump’s taxes.

…and I predicted at that time that we would never see his tax returns if we waited for him to release them. I was right. I was right on many counts. This is not proof that I can read minds or predict the future. It is, however, a vindication of my assertion three years ago that I knew who Donald Trump was. That he was dirty and that he was never going to reveal that dirt willingly.

This week we learned that his businesses keep at least two sets of books. One set of books that they show to the government, and one set of books that they show to the banks. There is probably a third set of books out there somewhere that contains real numbers, but that set of books they don’t show to anybody. This isn’t rocket science, this is how you do business as a con artist.

TRUMP, INC. – Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies – Oct. 16, 2019

A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.

TRUMP, INC.

His tax returns will soon be a matter of public record, as they should be, given that his arguments for keeping them private are being laughed out of courtrooms across the country.

NYT – Trump Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan D.A.

Not to mention the lawful request made by the House of Representatives that has been illegally stymied by the White House.

NYT – House Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns

These issues will both be represented in points in the articles of impeachment that will be recommended against Donald J. Trump. Who else he takes down with him has yet to be determined.

Slaves?

Main deficiency of active people. Active men are usually lacking in higher activity-I mean individual activity. They are active as officials, businessmen, scholars, that is, as generic beings, but not as quite particular, single and unique men. In this respect they are lazy.

It is the misfortune of active men that their activity is almost always a bit irrational. For example, one must not inquire of the money-gathering banker what the purpose for his restless activity is: it is irrational. Active people roll like a stone, conforming to the stupidity of mechanics.

Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.

Friedrich Nietzsche – Human, All Too Human
Section Five: Signs of Higher and Lower Culture #283

I’ll just quote a book title as the proper question in response to Nietzsche’s aphorism above. Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Like Adam Smith, Nietzsche is oblivious to the comforts that having others around, even others that he derides as lesser than himself, provides. If Friedrich Nietzsche or Adam Smith cooked and cleaned for themselves, they would be slaves, per Nietzsche. Slaves to their own needs. At least, in Adam Smith’s case, he would have ended up with a better idea of what economics was. If he had time to think about economics between the washing and the cooking, the hauling of water, etc. I wonder what that version of Wealth of Nations would have looked like?

Listening to the discussion of Nietzsche contained in Episode 11: Nietzsche’s Immoralism: What Is Ethics, Anyway? it’s easy to see the inspiration for much of Hitler and the Nazi party’s philosophy. How and why Hitler was so empowered by the German people to go out and achieve greatness for them. Never mind that Nietzsche would never have condoned the use of his ideas in this fashion. Ideas are like that. Once realized and expressed they are free to be used by anyone who happens upon them.

I need a certain level of comfort to be great.

Mark Linsenmayer

Abortion, Lead & Crime

My paper does not refute their conclusions. To the contrary, it actually reaffirms them. I include their abortion measure in my analysis, and I find that the abortion effect is pretty much unchanged when one includes the lead effect. That the two effects are operating relatively independently, and that each one is of similar magnitude when you do or don’t account for the other. So what that means is that, from my perspective, both stories are true. And we can hold both of them kind of side by side. It doesn’t make sense to look for a single explanation for a decline in crime. There are lots of explanations.

Jessica Wolpaw Reyes

I’m glad that Freakonomics Radio went back and revisited this subject. I’ve been wanting to hear Levitt’s opinions on how the data has proven out over the last eighteen years. I had not expected that they would invite the lead study author (Jessica Reyes) to appear on the show and add her weight to the argument concerning why crime rates fell, and what to credit for this dramatic fall in crime.

StitcherAbortion and Crime, Revisited (Ep. 384)

Just a quick tangent here. I have to wonder about Stitcher just as I wonder about most podcast apps and their approach to embedded content. I have to construct the embed for myself in order to get the podcast to play, and even then the embed lacks most of the information that could be provided. Contrast this embed with the embed for Today Explained in this article. That embed showed up just by pasting the URL for the episode directly into WordPress. Like the articles of my own that I post below, the content simply appears.

I, as a firstborn child, born before the legal availability of abortion, a child now turned mature adult. I have no doubt as to the causal nature between wantedness and a tendency towards criminal behavior. I know what my teenage years were like. No, I won’t discuss that subject here. Not now, anyway.

I can say that my experiences have lead me to echo Levitt’s sentiment that I quote below, with my own children. I have striven always to make them feel loved, no matter what they did at any given time in their childhood years. I love them. I wanted them, and I want them to know that. No matter what secret feelings I harbor about my mother and what choices she would have made, had she been allowed to make them, I do my best not allow these feelings to color my dealings with my own children or anyone else around me. If anyone should be terrified that they might have been aborted before birth, that person is me. I would have preferred never to have existed than to have been an unwanted burden on anybody. I can also state that with certainty.

…if there’s one thing that comes out of our research, it is the idea that unwantedness is super-powerful. And it’s affected me as a father in the sense that when I first was having kids, I didn’t feel maybe so obligated to make children feel loved. And it’s interesting that that now as I go through a second round of kids, I am not trying to teach my kids very much. I’m just trying to make them feel incredibly loved. And it seems to me that that’s a pretty good premise for young kids.

Steve Levitt

Ends not Means

In the kingdom of ends everything has either value or dignity. Whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is equivalent; whatever, on the other hand, is above all value, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity.

Immanuel Kant

I’ve been slowly (very slowly) going through the back episodes of A Partially Examined Life. I see no point in starting anything discussing philosophy anywhere except at the beginning, and since I didn’t find the podcast until now, I’m stuck going back through ten years of episodes. Why do I have to start at a beginning? All conversation, all understanding, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A conversation about philosophy cannot be understood by dropping into the middle. Also, you can’t understand where someone is coming from on a particular subject without listening to them talk endlessly about that subject.

…and these guys can go on and on about philosophy. (I liked Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy. Did he do Kant justice? I have no idea. I know Rand didn’t.) I have yet to get bored while listening.

Explaining Impeachment

Everybody and their dog is now talking about impeachment. It’s about fucking time. Where were they three years ago? Donald Trump was impeachable from the day he lied taking his oath, and we knew he was lying when he did it. We simply lacked the political will to do the work required to set the misfire of the 2016 election aside back when it would have made a real difference.

…and the 2016 election was a misfire. The Electoral College should never have been required to vote for Donald Trump in the first place. The political gerrymandering that has made the Electoral College into the dysfunctional thing it is today should disqualify relying on the Electoral College to render a verdict on anything in the first place, never mind an election that hinged on a fraction of a percentage point in three minor US states instead of the overwhelming majority of Americans who voted for sanity instead of insanity. That’s why anyone who runs around screaming about the calamity of the Trump presidency is a #MAGA Nimrod. All of this has happened before and it will happen again.

But hey, Nancy Pelosi is on board with impeachment, so everyone thinks they have to talk about it now. Now that the bus of the US federal government is on fire, plummeting downwards at a predictable rate of V = gt, now they want to apply the brakes. Well that’s fine. I’ll have another bottle of spirits over here in the meantime. If you don’t mind.

Exhibit A

The NPR Politics Podcast – Impeachment Then & Now: Trump Vs. Nixon & Clinton – October 10, 2019

The comparative difference between Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton & Donald Trump is easy to discern. Donald Trump is a fraud, plain and simple. He has sold his Stormtrumpers (#MAGA) a bill of goods that he could never deliver, and had no intention of delivering. This is his standard of practice. Donald Trump was a fraud way, way back. All the way back to the 1970’s & 80’s when he cheated on his taxes stealing the wealth of his father’s company. When he built his first building. When he bought out and then bankrupted his casinos. He is still a fraud, a tax cheat and a money launderer. All of this will come out, eventually.

All the other guys who have faced impeachment had some good thing they hoped to achieve in the public service. The same cannot be said of Trump.

Exhibit B

Politics Podcast: How Impeachment Is Supposed To Work (Editor’s note: They added the video to the page! Nice!)

This episode of the 538 Politics podcast is the best explainer I’ve run across on the subject of impeachment. Kate Shaw even picks up on what the guest on Today Explained missed (Exhibit C) She goes point by point through the process as it will most likely progress. Since we only have three cases of presidential impeachment to measure with, it will be hard to say exactly how this will manifest itself. Stay tuned.

Unfortunately for the people who don’t (or won’t) listen to podcasts, there isn’t a transcript for 538 podcasts, and therefore no quick reference for those who just want to get to the facts of the subject directly. You’ll just have to listen. (Editor’s note: Now you can watch, too. I haven’t seen the video which isn’t available on the podcast feed. Yet)

Exhibit C

Unlike the Vox-produced Today Explained.

Which not only adds itself into WordPress articles as a playable embed, but you can find the transcript right in the embedded interface. Given what this episode is, a light brush over the subject of where the Trump impeachment goes from where we are now, it’s not too bad. If you understand the subject.

What did Laura McGann miss? The entirety of Scenario 9 is no mystery. Impeached officials, once successfully removed from office, can be barred from serving in public office again. Subject to a simple majority vote of the Senate. It’s right there in the rules. Or Wikipedia.

Exhibit D

The Daily from the New York Times is more of a cautionary tale. The Times, in its usual attempts to prove that they aren’t liberal by literally (or audibly) embracing the most insane rantings of whichever pundit they choose to give publicity to, chose to give publicity to the guy who brought us Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, et all. His name is Mike Davis.

NYT The Daily 10/10/2019

…everybody told us that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh and really sort of the torch-carrier politically through this process. And what he did in terms of not just managing the technicalities of the Senate investigation and the Senate process, but also waging this sort of cultural war for conservatives that was crystallized during the Kavanaugh confirmation process and is now being deployed as a defense against impeachment.

Kate Kelly, The Daily

The fact that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh should have been the first reason not to give the guy a microphone and several uninterrupted minutes to rant. Just flat out don’t do that. There are far, far too many people who will not understand how to dissect his rantings with a skeptical eye. Mike Davis is a poster child for motivated numeracy if not the face on the poster advertising the shortfalls of relying on the reasoning of people who cannot divorce themselves from the things that they believe.

What do I mean by that? If everything Trump is accused of doing was something Obama had been accused of doing how would Mike Davis react? If asked that question on the podcast he would prevaricate. He might even understand the hypocrisy of saying that it would be different for Obama and thereby say “it’s no big deal” but that would be a lie.

We know what would have happened because we lived through eight years of outrage directed at what could objectively be determined to be the best president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (the tan suit, anybody?) If Dwight D. Eisenhower’s portrait is on display anywhere in Washington D.C., the place in the same building that would be appropriate for Donald Trump’s portrait is wherever the garbage is stored before being hauled to the landfill. Which is where Donald Trump’s portrait should go after that. The landfill. With the rest of the garbage.

The New York Times illustrates again exactly why I don’t spend money supporting their reporting. If I had money to support investigative journalism these days I’d have to give it to Vanity Fair, Propublica, The Guardian or The Atlantic. It is a sad day for journalism today, folks.

Impeachment is dangerous. And that danger – that very danger right there, the very nature of it — is why it must be done. And it is in the crucible of crisis, facing the greatest of dangers, when true, authentic greatness is forged.

Stonekettle Station

Starting the second week in October, 2019, there are now three podcasts that I’ve found that deal specifically with the subject of impeachment and only that subject. The first one is Impeachment, Explained from the same people who bring you the podcast Today, Explained linked above. This is the first episode. It will come out weekly on Spotify.

The 4 words that will decide impeachment

Then there is the daily podcast from WNYC, called simply Impeachment. I like titles that just say what they are about. This podcast is compiled from content that is aired on the Brian Lehrer show.

Impeachment – ‘A Perfect Slice of Emolument Pie’ – October 21, 2019

…was the episode that followed up the voicemail I left two days previously asking why Trump hasn’t been impeached already based on his emoluments violations. I’m sure I’m not the only one asking that question. The Trump Doral debacle is, as the title suggests, a perfect slice of the subject.

The third podcast is Article II from MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. Of the three, this one is the one I have the least hope for. I’m not sure why, it just seems that MSNBC manages to shoot themselves in the foot about every other time they try to do something. Since Bagman was such a hit and The Oath is making waves, I’m betting that Article II is doomed to failure. But I’ll give it a few weeks to see what Steve manages to pull out of the hat.

Article II: Inside Impeachment – Star Witness

In testimony on Tuesday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, described what he saw as a high-stakes decision by President Trump to withhold $391 million in aid to Ukraine. Dan De Luce, national security and global affairs reporter for the NBC News investigative unit, recounts Taylor’s opening statement and whether it support the theory of a “quid pro quo.” 

Then Wednesday the Republicans in the House of Representatives proved themselves unfit for office by staging a juvenile stunt during the hearings. Such is life in the US in 2019. I sent #ImeachTrump? #ExpelMcConnell! to the show as a comment.

#MAGA Nimrods

I mean, Jesus Christ, how did nobody consider that one day, some insane demagogue might incite a populist rebellion and threaten to shit on our country? How did no one think to create some kind of safeguard?

OH WAIT. I DID. IN FUCKING 1787.

Remember that Constitution you guys all say you loooove so much? Yeah, I wrote that shit. All of it. Even though for some reason you assholes keep thinking it was Jefferson. And because I’m way smarter than all of you, I wrote in a little something I call the Electoral College.

ARTICLE II SECTION 1, NIMRODS. Maybe if you had paid attention in civics class instead of fantasizing about having seven seconds in heaven with Joey Leibowitz during free period you would know about it. But here, let me break it down for you.

James fucking Madison

An article on the Yale Record with the byline of A. Chase from 2016. Can’t say they don’t have a sense of humor. Humor that is still as relevant four years later. Imagine what it would have been like to have an Electoral College that wasn’t required by law to vote for the guy who threatened to incite a populist rebellion and threaten to shit on our country? The guy who is in the process of doing it? Maybe we should look to that other part of the Constitution that James fucking Madison wrote.

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article 2 Section 4

A handy guide to give to the Orange Hate-Monkey so that he can follow along as the procedure takes place.

Perspective

George Bush got a pass from history that I will never understand. He starts a war for a completely fictionalized reason, which results in hundreds of thousands of people dying, and an entire generation of war vets coming home, damaged for the rest of their lives, and you can see them on the streets. Why are they on the streets? Because George Bush started a war for no reason. Right? And then not to mention the devastation that is left over in Iraq because we started a war for no reason. Right?

…And somehow this doesn’t matter and we’re obsessing about Trump’s tweets when there is a guy in Texas…

(Larry Wilmore: You know who was against that war? Your boy Trump.)

I don’t think Trump is nearly as egregious as George Bush. I don’t think it’s even close. He started a war on the basis of a lie. A complete falsehood which he told to the American people that had nothing to do with 9-11. Which devastated tens of thousands of lives, cost a trillion dollars, and left a generation of American soldiers devastated and wounded and somehow he’s perceived as this genial guy down in Texas painting pictures and giving speeches.

What is the matter with us? There is nothing Donald Trump has done that has come even close to the human devastation of George Bush’s time. Not even close. Not even close. I mean, Trump is a deeply objectionable figure, but he has not resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people for no reason.

George Bush is a war criminal. That is what a war criminal is. Someone who enters into a disastrous conflict for no good reason. For worse than no good reason. For a completely trumped up, ridiculous reason. The choice of things that Americans get riled up about has always amazed me.

Malcolm Gladwell

Something I’ve pointed out a few dozen times myself. As much as Trump is an active threat to the proper functioning of the United States, and a fraudster that is duping us of millions of dollars for every day he is in office, he hasn’t yet descended to the level of war criminal that Bush, Cheney, et al occupy.

The Orange Hate-Monkey hasn’t gone that far down the scale of evil yet. Yet. The back and forth occurs at 40:45 in this episode of Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air.

Malcolm Gladwell on ‘Talking to Strangers’ (Live) | Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air

I also took the time to listen to It’s Been a Minute With Sam Sanders,  Best-Selling Author Malcolm Gladwell On ‘Talking To Strangers’: A Live Conversation. Both podcasts were worth the time, and you gain an insight into the personality of Sandra Bland that isn’t available anywhere else unless you just happened to run across her Youtube channel yourself, as well as why every time you call a racist a racist you are in some small way handing a victory to institutional racism.


It is worth noting that not prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney et al for their war crimes leads directly to Donald Trump becoming president. Which means that in some small part, Barack Obama is to blame for the predicament that we find ourselves in today. George W. Bush was not prosecuted for war crimes because the Obama justice department chose not to make a case of the conspiracies and lies that lead us into war in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost, the foundation of DAESH (what the media in the US calls the Islamic State) hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives lost, thousands of American lives lost, more than a hundred thousand injured and disabled US veterans, trillions of dollars wasted. George Bush and his administration get a pass for all of that when all of that sprang directly from the lie that Iraq was somehow involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. President Obama gave him that pass.

Had George Bush been prosecuted. Had the known crimes against humanity committed by the Bush administration been subjected to inquiry, justice and restitution, the Republican party would not have felt that they were still in the right when it comes to their delusions about foreign policy. Their delusions about christianity. The place of the US government as part of a whole world which requires governance. Requires justice.

They would have known that their beliefs were based on lies because the criminal proceedings would have made the truth of this blatantly clear. Whether they agreed with the verdicts or not, in the end, the trial of George W. Bush for war crimes would have altered the trajectory of the Republican party if not resulted in its destruction and reformation as a viable opposing party to the Democrats.

Instead we let George Bush off the hook. And what we got for letting him off the hook was transparently racist hatred of Barack Obama and an unrepentant Republican party willing to sacrifice everything on one last chance to get their beliefs enshrined as public policy, even if that meant they had to destroy everything they pretended to hold dear in the process.

What we got for our inaction on the crimes of the Bush administration was civil war in Syria and unrest across the entire region that we refer to as the Middle East. How many millions of lives will be negatively impacted by our unwillingness to get involved in the Syrian civil war?

Morning Edition – Survivor Of Torture In Syria’s Prisons Is Telling His Story

Climate change is a portion of the reason why Syria descended into civil war. Civil war is always more complex than any one group involved in the civil war ever wants to admit. An extended drought in the region lead to crop failures and the migration of the starving farmers into cities and towns where they demanded aid and assistance from the Assad government. Instead of responding with aid, Bashar al Assad imprisoned these protestors and forced the dissident groups within his country to ally with outside forces in order to topple his government. Topple his government so that the poor in his country could be given the assistance that they needed to weather the crisis brought on by climate change.

The conservatives here in the US deny that climate change is real, and they further deny that we have any reason to think that the human tragedies occurring in Syria and elsewhere around the world are our responsibility. All while we pump out more carbon dioxide than any other country as technically advanced as our own.

How many millions of people, if not billions of people, will suffer and possibly die because of the denialism that we allow to fester in our country, when it comes to climate change? Why do we allow these people who deny science to lead our country? Why do we think that they have a right to believe things which are demonstrably not true? Will flat earthers be given a seat at the leadership table next?

Morning Edition – We Are On The Front Line Of Climate Change, Marshall Islands President Says

That is perspective. Study it closely.

What Trump Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law

For any #MAGA out there. You know who you are.

Trumpconlaw is another podcast hosted by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible fame. When the show first started, I started tweeting out my own version of promos for each episode. The series of them can be found under the tag TrumpConLaw on this blog. This post should appear as the header for that series of tweets. As a consequence of this, it will move forward in time as new episodes are released. Here is the introductory episode of the series.

StitcherIntro to What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law – 06.07.17

Twitter

So we’re going to learn the constitution together. Because of Trump. Because I need something to hold onto, and the constitution is the liferaft that our forefathers gave us. And dammit, I’m going to learn how it works.

Roman Mars

On a tangential track (or set of tracks) I am slowly working my way through the 99% Invisible archive. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make it all the way through, but hope springs eternal. 99% Invisible is undoubtedly one of the best designed websites in existence. All Roman Mars podcasts and the podcasts that are presented through his distribution group, Radiotopia, are among the few podcasts out there that are easily shareable; easily shareable because the link to the hosting website is actually referenced in the feed address for the podcast you are listening to. I remain baffled as to why more podcasts do not design their feeds to be easily accessible in this way. In any case, give some of these podcasts a listen. It will take your mind off of the impending doom looming over the US today.


TED2015 Roman Mars Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed

09/22/19. I added the link to the introduction episode, the inspirational tweet, and Roman’s quote from that episode.