Sunday, January 08, 2017

Requim for my cousin

Well, this is gonna be a tough one...

I needed to wipe my eyes a few times doing this.

As bad as 2016 was in that so many beloved figures in popular culture have passed, there was nothing that prepared me for the news that 2017 brought.

On the second day of the New Year, I was informed that my cousin Thomas Miller had suddenly passed.

Until late in 2016, he was absolutely in the prime of his life. He was healthy and thriving and at the top of his game. He was an accomplished commercial pilot, an attorney, he basically ran a charter airline, he flew the Eagle One Rescue helicopter, even volunteering to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Tom had a passion for flight that was inspiring. He worked overtime as a young adult to be able to afford flight lessons, and later his own Piper Cherokee. He became a flight instructor, and actually took me on training flights a number of times. He also went back to school to become an attorney, although his love of flight pretty much precluded him from hanging a shingle in front of an office to practice law on a daily basis.

Tom even trained to become a jump pilot for my parachute organization, and he flew me and Joyce many times to make our jumps back in the 80s. He never got over how crazy it looked for him piloting a plane full of jumpers to open the door at 12,000 feet and watch us all simply leap out! For all his flying experience it was kind of fun to freak him out a little!

He went on to become a multi-engine commercial pilot, and he graduated to private jets, where he flew celebrities and ex-presidents around the world. He has a photo of himself with President George H.W. Bush. He flew many famous people to amazing places. All while making his way into the corporate world as a director at a charter airline.

He also had a world of other interests, such as boating, where we'd often see him speeding around our sailboat on Long Island Sound. Of course he named his boat "Miller Time"!

And he loved old trains, to the point when I created a documentary about a Rails-to-Trails hiking path and I included a snippet of an old NY-New Haven-Hartford engine rolling out of a station, he wanted me to give him the link to the archived video to see it! And we'll never forget his love for classic cars and motorcycles.

Tom loved family and was always there to help, often even without anyone asking. He was quick and sincere in his offer to assist his friends. He leaves a loving wife and close-knit family who loves him dearly, and an extended family and friendship circle that will always remember him.

Even though we're nearly the same age, my cousin Tommy will always be a role model for me and many others who knew him. I will continue to look up to him for as long as I live, and he will always serve as an example of someone who knew how to do life "right".

And perhaps his most important example will be to live life to it's fullest! There is nobody I know who was better at it.

A famous Irish actor once said this to me, and I believe it true.

"Live each day as if it were your last, because one day you will be right!"

I will miss you always, Tom. We will keep you in our hearts forever.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Can we do mental health screenings on Presidents-elect?

Everyone with even the slightest cognitive ability can plainly see that Donald Trump has some mental health problems, no matter how hard they try to ignore this fact.

People who voted for him have to be aware of, but choose to ignore, the obvious signs that Trump suffers from some serious psychological issues. They apparently have an internal filter that conveniently avoids acknowledging the terrible things that Trump says and does on a daily basis because they hear only the things they want, such as lower taxes for the wealthy, and the threat to magically sweep all illegal immigrants out of the country.

So a number of professors of psychiatry have written our current popularly-elected president, and asked him if they can do something about Trump's dangerous mental condition.

This is from The Huffington Post:
received this stunning letter to President Obama from a source, with written permission from Dr. Herman, Dr. Gartrell and Dr. Mosbacher, because the source knew that I had been interviewing Psychiatrists and Psychologists about Donald Trump’s alleged “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”.

Virtually every mental health professional I interviewed told me that they believed, with 100% certainty, that Mr. Trump satisfied the DSM criteria of this incurable illness and that, as a result, he is a serious danger to the country and the world.
The article goes on to describe the characteristics of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”, and reading the list makes it chillingly clear that Donald Trump is ruled by a severe mental illness.

And he has absolute authority to do anything he wishes with our nuclear arsenal!

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM - 5, Cluster B) for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” by The American Psychiatric Association (APA)

Here, according to The APA, are the 9 criteria for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. If an individual has 5 out of the 9 they have a confirmed diagnosis of this illness. Many individuals have “traits” of narcissism but only about 1% of the population has clinical NPD.

“Summary : A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believe that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”

What does it mean if someone does have NPD?

If someone does have “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” they can, indeed, wake up, see a Tweet or a news report from a foreign leader criticizing him, mocking him, calling him “weak” or threatening his ego in any way and order some kind of impulsive, vindictive, punishing, immediate response that could include an unhinged order to attack that foreign leader or foreign country with military force, even including the authorization of nuclear weapons.

It is extremely likely that there would be some kind of impulsive, angry diplomatic response.

Before I read this, I knew we Americans were pretty much fucked.

Afterwards, I now know the entire world is fucked!

For further reading, here's a look at the DSM-5 discussion of NPD.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can the Senate confirm Merrick Garland?

There's an interesting little story circulating about a loophole in the Senate rules that may lead to a confirmation of President Obama's pick to fill the vacant seat of Justice Scalia.

From the Daily Kos:

Senate Republicans refused to give President Obama’s pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Scalia even the courtesy of a hearing. It was disrespectful, and historically unprecedented. But there is still something we can do to get Merrick Garland confirmed before Obama leaves office.

At 12:00 noon on January 3, 2017 (according to the Constitution), the terms of 34 U.S. Senators will expire. At that point, the Senate will briefly consist of 66 sitting senators—until Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as Senate president, begins swearing in the senators-elect.

Before Biden begins the proceedings, he has a chance to preside over a Senate that consists of 34 Democrats, 2 independents who caucus with Democrats and 30 Republicans—as the remaining Senators are in limbo of being newly sworn in. At this point, Democrats could ask to finish Senate business as it pertains to President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

For the past year, Republicans have claimed that the "American people" should decide the fate of that Supreme Court seat. Hillary Clinton got 2.7 million more votes than Donald Trump, and more Americans voted Democratic in the U.S. Senate races. Democrats are entirely justified to make this move, and it's the only way to guarantee that Garland will be confirmed.

Senate Democrats pulling off this move must be willing to proceed over the very loud, but still out-of-order objections from Republicans. That’s to say nothing of the Republican sore feelings that would come from Democrats winning the right to fill the SCOTUS seat the entire nation knew belonged to President Obama. But it's the right thing to do.

This brings up all sorts of interesting Constitutional questions. Does a 66-seat Senate have the legal authority to do this? Can the Republicans filibuster the vote, although the rules may refer to 60 senators being needed to do so. How long can Vice President Biden delay the swearing in of the new Congress? Will the 36 Democrats and Independents agree to do this?

This move, if legal, would certainly go a long way toward curtailing some of the worst excesses predicted during a Trump presidency. As long as the remaining Justices remain alive until January of 2021, when we'll certainly see a more moderate president taking the Oath of Office.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Electoral college vote tomorrow

I want to go on record today, Sunday, the day BEFORE the Electoral College votes, as saying there's absolutely NO FUCKING CHANCE the electoral vote tomorrow will fail to elect Donald J. Trump as our 45th president.

Or, as I like to call him, "Dolt 45"!

Who here can doubt that at least 270 of Trump's 300-Plus pledged voters will act accordingly? This is a very public, very high profile event. Every single voter has their name and home state posted everywhere on the internet. It would be political suicide, and quite possibly, real life suicide to vote against the PEOTUS.

Because we know there are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of crazed Trump supporters and 2nd Amendment crazies who will gladly martyr themselves in the effort to eliminate any "faithless electors".

I'm completely and viscerally anti-Trump, and if I was a GOP elector, even I wouldn't try to do that! Hey, things may get bad under a Trump presidency, but getting shot up while starting my car in the morning would be worse by magnitudes!

So no, I don't blame any electors who are fearful of voting against who will unarguably be the WORST president this nation has ever seen! They all have families and people they love, and they don't want to see them murdered because of their vote. Especially if they don't get 36 other electors to fail to vote for Trump. There will be no quarter and no hope for them.

The supposed recounts won't change a thing. The electors will fulfill their duty. Trump will be our next president.

The big question is, where do we go from here?

Sunday, December 11, 2016


This is what it'll be referred to in the history books.

That is, if there ARE any history books left once Trump's anti-education Sec. of Education is appointed!

We're just shy of six weeks until the inauguration of a man who will definitely turn out to be the most ill-equipped and dangerous President our nation has ever seen.

For the last several days there has been a significant increase in media stories about Russia's interference with our election, and even more so that Trump and the GOP are complicit in their actions.

Trump has been angrily Tweeting about the election for weeks, and now when the CIA reveals the likelihood of Russia's crimes, Trump attacked the CIA!!!

So, our President-elect is defending a dictator (Putin) while calling the CIA liars.

Yeah, this is gonna be good.

As someone just mentioned on Twitter, "It only took one FBI guy (Mark Felt) to take down Nixon and one FBI guy (James Comey) to take down Hillary. Let's see what happens when the entire CIA has it in for Trump."

I seriously doubt anything will prevent Donald Trump from being sworn in as our 45th president next month (or "Dolt 45" as I suggested). But what WILL happen is that as more and more evidence of foreign intervention becomes known, and the GOP's knowledge and complicity in these actions are revealed, we'll see more and more Republicans deserting Trump to try and keep their political futures safe.

In 1974, the House Judicial Committee voted, with Republican help, to pass the articles of impeachment. After it became certain that Nixon wouldn't get the necessary 34 votes in the Senate to avoid removal from office, he resigned.

That was back when the Democrats enjoyed significant majorities in both Houses of Congress. We're in a different situation today. The GOP has a huge majority in the House, and they have 52 Senators. Again, they'll only need 34 to avoid Trump being removed, so the only way that can happen, regardless of whatever evidence is presented, is if all the Democrats and 19 of the Republicans vote for it.

That's a tall order. No Republican senator wants to vote for conviction, only to have the vote fall short and leave Trump in office. That would be political death. A more palpable action would be to vote for acquittal, and if the president is convicted anyway, they can just say they didn't find the evidence satisfactory enough.

So, I think the ONLY way this can happen is if SO much evidence comes to light that it makes it impossible NOT to vote for it.

Or, if this drags on past the mid-terms, the Dems have a shot at getting better numbers in both Houses, along with sending a message to the GOP that they've lost much of their base and they better get in line with impeachment.

But judging how the average Republican voter processes information, I'd be surprised if the GOP lost more than a handful of seats in 2018.

Which basically means, we're likely stuck with Donald Trump for at least four years. I shudder to imagine what our nation will be like then.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Trump is already shutting down Free Speech

The Man-baby-elect has begun to restrict access to one of the most revered icons in the history of civil rights on his special day.

And it appears he is being allowed to do just that.

The Lincoln Memorial is being declared off-limits to protests for a period before and after Inauguration Day.

Here's Maura Keaney via Facebook to explain:
On behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, the National Park Service is denying permits for marches and protests not just on Inauguration Day, but for days before and weeks after. This is unprecedented, and it is just another example of Trump's disdain for the 1st Amendment. The rights to free speech, to peaceably gather, to petition the government for redress of grievances are bedrock, fundamental, essential to what it means to be American since the Revolution. He's starting this shit before Day 1, literally. We must resist. And Trump supporters have an even greater obligation to resist. You claimed to vote for this guy in part because he wanted his speech to be as offensive as he wanted without being restrained by "political correctness". Now he is literally shutting down speech that could be even remotely critical of him, not just on the big baby's special day, but on all public lands in DC before and after. PUBLIC LANDS. Not Trumpland. Ours.

Now, I'm not an expect on how Presidential powers work, but it seems to me that until the very moment the Orange Skittle repeats the Chief Justice's words on January 20th, there is still a President in town who can do something about this ridiculous abuse of the office.

The Women's March on Washington is scheduled for the day AFTER the Inauguration, January 21st. On that day, Trump can do whatever he wants.

I think the organizers should move The March up just ONE day, to begin early in the morning the Inauguration!

While we still have a President who believes in Freedom!

Obama can make the simplest of Executive Orders granting a NPS permit to the expected thousands of women who want to march, and leave it to Trump to have to decide if he's going to send in riot police or National Guardsmen in on Inauguration Day at 12:01pm to forcibly and violently clear the area! Just think how short a Trump presidency will be if he goes full-Tiananman on his VERY FIRST DAY!!!

Seems to me that this is a no-brainer!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Where do the Dems go from here?

As a party, the Democrats have pretty much blown any political currency they've enjoyed over the last eight years by running a candidate filled with hubris and entitlement as the follow-up to a remarkable presidency by Barack Obama.

As a Democrat (technically not a "life-long Democrat", because when I was 18 my dad suggested I register as a Republican, and even though I've always voted for the Democratic candidate in every election (except in 2000, when I was pissed that Joe fucking Lieberman was running for V.P. and Senate at the same time as a sort of hedge bet against being a loser, so I voted for the Republican guy who was later convicted of child raping, because I didn't know you could simply NOT vote for a particular office, so yeah, I can't be a life-long Democrat)) I'm frustrated and annoyed at my party. How they simply chose for Clinton to be the candidate, and how they did every single thing they could to undermine the concept of a fair election in which Bernie Sanders would have likely won.

I'm embarrassed by my party. I'm disappointed by it. And I'm angry with it.

We need to seriously look at how things are going to go from here.

We need to ensure the primaries are run fairly. We need to eliminate any collusion between the party and any one candidate.

And we need to finally dump the fucking "super delegate" rule, and give the selection process back to the voters.

Because really, the system we have now is not going to win us any elections any time soon.

We may have already blown it for good. Trump has opened the door for a rise of nationalism that has the potential to echo (at the risk of going full-Godwin) the winds of fascism that Germany experienced in the 1930s.

I don't recall during any president's acceptance speech on election night hearing someone in the crowd yell "Kill (the current president)". And it was even more chilling by the complete lack of anyone in the crowd responding negatively to it.

We're on the verge of becoming something quite different from what America is supposed to be. And nearly all of the blame for this lies within our own party.

"We have met the enemy, and they is us."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

All I want for Thanksgiving is a recount

Holy shit!

The biggest news of the last 24 hours is possible voting irregularities in some key swing states.

And 3rd-party candidate Jill Stein has raised over $2,000,000 online to pay for recounts in PA, WI, and MI.

This is looking to be a very interesting couple of weeks coming up. The Electoral College (you know, those 538 people who REALLY elect our president) votes on December 19th. And there is growing concern that a significant number of Trump electors may jump ship and vote for Hillary.

Especially if the recounts actually happen, and we get results that don't agree with the current tally of electors.

I'm having a flashback to the disastrous 2000 election, when Gore v. Bush ended up with a vicious and contentious recount of stupid Florida, which eventually was decided when a judge ruled that the recount must be stopped and the results accepted.

The lawyer representing Bush's case later became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Under Bush's reign.

This may not happen here, but enough people are concerned once again about the outcome of a vote that SHOULD be a fairly simple matter.

We need identically formatted paper ballots in all 50 states. Elections that include Federal office should be regulated by the Federal government. At least where ballots and ballot layout are concerned.

That way, we'll have an easier time of recounting votes if there's an issue.

Meanwhile, we'll see if there's a reasonable way to verify votes that were made on electronic voting machines. If the recounts actually happen, that is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Godwinning the presidency

From Wikipedia:

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1" —​​that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler.

Generally this is true.

Occasionally, I'll Godwin someone just to get out of a debate, especially at parties.

But in this case, it seems that the POTUS-elect is Godwinning himself!

By aligning himself with the unrealistically-named "Alt-Right", Trump is basically goose-stepping his way alongside what will be known to history as the New Nazi Party.

Let's face facts. By legitimizing hate-speech, Donald Trump has condoned and encouraged the rise of fanaticism in our nation, and things will only get worse from here.

To cheer myself up, I've been reading quotes from Richard Nixon during his presidency. THERE was a guy who could really sew his hatred into a very few words.

Somehow, I expect the tapes from Trump's Oval Office will be a thousand times more chilling.

But Trump will probably be smart enough to burn the tapes. It's gonna take another NSA whistleblower to reveal what goes on in that office.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Buyer's remorse?

It's been about 10 days since the election, and the nation has had a reasonable amount of time to catch it's collective breathe. We're now witnessing the transition to a Trump administration.

And it's troubling to a lot of people.

I've spoken to a number of friends and acquaintances since the election who are ardent Republicans. These are people who were vocal in their support of Trump during the campaign. They really enjoyed being on the Trump bandwagon and giving Hillary a lot of jabs along the way.

Then, the impossible happened.

Donald Trump fucking WON!

To a person, they all seem to have some reservations about where our nation is going from here. When I brought up the subject of the election to them, I fully expected to receive a steaming pile of schadenfreude from them!

And I would have been OK with that. They won, we lost, go ahead and relish your victory.

But all of them seemed to have not considered any of the ramifications of a Trump presidency until AFTER they voted for him!

In the cold light of day following the election, it seems many of them have finally noticed the awfulness that Trump represents, and now we're stuck with him. None of them were enthusiastic about what may happen in the near future, except that they're all hoping for the best.

One fellow even said "Hey, I'm just hoping he doesn't turn out to be terrible!"

Yeah, I kind of share that sentiment.