Thursday, April 20, 2017
Nothing but a fig leaf
Thanks to Donald Trump's ongoing refusal to come clean financially, rendering to the IRS this year feels particularly irritating. All we got from Trump was a leaked two-page summary of his 2005 return--the year his immigrant wife's status would have been specially scrutinized--and a lame separation from his business interests through a revocable trust, with sons and longtime CFO installed as trustees.
A revocable trust can be changed or eliminated on a whim. If you or I had a trust like that, and say we needed Medicaid to pay for nursing-home care, we would be disqualified. The trust money would be treated as our own.
This is especially so with Trump, given his subordinate trustees, his virtually unlimited access to income and principal, and trustee power to sell assets and deposit proceeds into Trump's pocket without disclosure.
The trust is a "sham" and a "fig leaf," says the Wallace Global Fund, a client of the law firm that devised it. The fund fired that firm, objecting that it had violated "values of open and accountable democratic governance."
With Trump fancy-dancing like that, we should see his tax returns at the very least. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) notes that they can show "intimate connections" to foreign governments, or answer integrity questions like if you are the person giving to charity or are converting another donor's gift into your own.
Even before Trump was elected, bipartisan legislation was pending to force candidates' release of tax returns. Force should not be necessary. With this guy, it is.
Pick up after yourself
Two Saturdays in a row I did my daily walk in Little Rock, starting at the Clinton Library. It's a lovely property, and there are slopes that kids like to ride down on their cardboard "sleds." Many families were out enjoying the beautiful spring weather, and the kids were having a blast.
However, on the following Saturday, all those cardboard "sleds" were abandoned at the bottom of the slopes, no kids in sight. A very unsightly scene. What the heck is wrong with the parents? Please, people, teach your kids to pick up their trash/litter. It was like "OK, kids, you've had enough for today, so let's go." And off they went, leaving their "sleds" behind for someone else to clean up.
Little Rock is one of the nicest capital cities I have seen, and I have walked in just about all of them. It truly is a shame to see the litter in this fine city. The Cantrell exit especially looks like a garbage dump.
Parenting begins at home. Teach your kids to pick up after themselves when they are out and about. Have some respect for our city and parks.
Seems a little fishy ...
When is a judge performing in an unbiased manner when he or she protests for or against anything he or she has just formed an opinion on before his or her court?
Hogs cause big stink
I will never forget hearing that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality approved a CAFO hog farm near the Buffalo River. I prompted me to sit down and write a protest song, "Big Stink on the Buffalo" (youtu.be/qEiL3ghXfho). I am not a songwriter, but the lyrics just came to me without much effort.
If we don't stop this madness, I may have to write another song. I think I will call it "Big Stink in Arkansas."
Remember, at one time North Carolina only had one CAFO hog farm. Now it is paying the price.
The Korean problem
The Trump administration, through Mike Pence, has given a direct warning to North Korea that a military response might be the only option for dealing with its nuclear weapon and missile programs. This policy would be sound if the United States was dealing with a leader who is not a paranoid megalomaniac who has probably never experienced a single moment of reality in his life as "fearless-leader-in-waiting" and in his present role as Supreme National Fearless and Fearsome Leader (SNFFL).
Kim Jong Un's grasp of reality was aptly demonstrated when he said that he would "obliterate" the United States and that he could conduct an "all-out war" with the United States and presumably win it. It indicates to me that the SNFFL's personal map of the world might depict an overly enlarged North Korea. I also think that Trump's threat of military action only serves to confirm the SNFFL's self-image as a great leader that the world, particularly the U.S., should fear. Perhaps Trump should inform Kim that his sordid little nation is not worth invading. Judging from Kim's total lack of regard for his own people, it is obvious that U.S. economic sanctions will not work either.
I believe the "Korean problem" is more China's problem than it is ours. China preserved this "little beastie" by its intervention in the Korean War, and since China is now a major world economic power, its leaders surely realize that a war in their region, particularly one in which they might get involved, would be bad for business.
Answer to a question
Larry Hacker's letter to Voices hit on an important (and often asked) question about the death penalty when he asked why "we" should care about the pain and suffering of the condemned when they did not have that concern about their victims.
For Larry and all others posing that question, I have one very simple answer. That being that "we" are not them. The fact that some have no compassion is not a reason for the compassionate to ape the behavior of the other.
Larry, Moe and Curly
Remember the Three Stooges? Three guys who continually tormented each other and had weird, funny haircuts. One might try to hold up two fingers and poke one of the others in the eyes, at which point a hand would be held up to prevent the poking and a laugh could be heard that sounded like "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk."
It immediately brings to mind Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.
Anyone care to hazard a guess on which of these three is Moe? He was the one who was always clunking the other two's heads together and calling them a couple of imbeciles.
Editorial on 04/20/2017
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