3 Months a Vegan

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A vegan offering from an Argentine winemaker. Highly recommended.

This is follow up to my “3 Weeks a Vegan” post. I am happy to report that I am still a vegan, or more accurately, still following a vegan diet. No intentional lapses. No dairy, no meat. I have eaten lots of beans, greens, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, as one might expect, and I occasionally consume pickles, sauerkraut, Kombucha, peanut butter, tofu, beer, and wine. I’ve cut out sweets for the most part, although I just finished a four bag marathon of Jolly Rancher jelly beans that happen to be vegan.  Most jelly bean makers use animal ingredients, like beeswax, and confectioners glaze (shallac) which consists of bug secretions to give the bean its sheen.

I feel reasonable healthy, lost and have keep off about 5 pounds, and have at least as much energy as before, maybe more although I’ve become lazy during the pandemic.  Because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the shelter in place order in my city, I have had to cancel my physical examination, so I haven’t yet had any blood tests that would determine whether my diet has conferred any health benefits. If my numbers suck, I’d consider returning to my old diet. What’s the first dish I’d have? Bacon and eggs. I really miss bacon.

What else do I miss? One of the most difficult challenges for me has been the dairy prohibition. I love cheese, Kefir, yogurt, eggs, milk, and butter. Imagine not being able to put sour cream and butter inside a piping hot baked potato. And while I miss these ingredients, I have kept my sanity and found decent plant-based substitutes. At the 3 week mark, I was struggling to find a suitable non-dairy creamer for my morning coffee. Fortunately, I have found two excellent vegan products that I can recommend without hesitation: Nut Pods and Califia. It took a while to get used to having coffee without the 2% milk I had been accustomed to, but now that my taste buds have adjusted to almond and coconut-based creamers, I find morning coffee once again to be an enjoyable experience.

So what do I eat? What’s a typical meal? A salad for starters. I like mine with mixed greens, sweet onions, radishes, green and red peppers, green olives, tomatoes, and Italian dressing. Main dishes have included pasta with red sauce, beans and rice, burritos, tacos, chili, eggplant dishes, Indian, Thai, vegetable stir fry, veggie burgers and tofu hotdogs, vegan frozen pizzas, and a variety of soups. Sides have been too numerous to mention but my favorites include baked potatoes, peas with tomato relish, corn on the cob with cashew-based butter, hush puppies, tater tots, french fries, rice, okra, spinach, grilled brussel sprouts, and onions, basically, most of the sides I used to have with meat.

One challenge remains. Wine. Many winemakers use fining agents from animal proteins found in eggs, milk, and fish to help clarify the wine. There aren’t labeling requirements regarding the use of fining agents, but some winemakers indicate if the wine is unfiltered, in which case it would be vegan friendly.  I have found some organic wines that are labeled vegan but not many, and the quality of the wines vary.  So for now, I am just buying varietals that I like in hopes that the wines are not filtered or that the fining agents used are clay-based.

I’ll post an update in 3 months.

Thoughts on COVID-19

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Corona viruses have been around for a long time and the world has seen its share of pandemics, plagues, and disasters of all kinds. This one seems modern, illusive, yes, even novel. It is one that developed countries should have been prepared for despite the challenges of combatting a largely invisible menace. Those countries and U.S. states that have taken the threat seriously from the beginning by implementing social distancing measures, quarantines, shelter in place and stay at home orders, who shut down businesses and emphasized sanitary protocols, and conducted mass testings, are now in better shape in terms of hospitalizations and death rates. In the U.S., states like California, Washington and Oregon, fiercely fought the virus from day 1 and managed resources efficiently, with some help from the federal government but not nearly enough.

The federal response to the virus outbreak in the U.S. has been an absolute disaster. Trump dithered and downplayed the seriousness of the virus in the early stages arguing that it would go away, that it was just another flu, and a political hoax, that the flu was much more serious in terms of the number of deaths and no one was talking about it – he suggested that liberals should be more alarmed about drownings and car accidents. His confidence in the hoax theory gave Republican governors in states like Florida and Georgia the license to ignore the warnings of public health officials. Until recently, many Floridians could be seen frolicking on beaches as if sand, sun, and salt water provided protection against the virus.

By the time doctors and scientists finally got through to Trump, it was too late to prevent the spread of the virus and to martial the resources states needed to protect health workers and save patients. And even though Trump has been conducting daily briefings suggesting he might actually care about the devastating impact the virus has had on people, unfortunately these have turned into campaign rallies and sparring matches with reporters. Rather than using the full powers of his presidency to issue a national stay at home order and to require companies to retool in service to the needs of hospitals and front line workers, Trump is attempting to weaponize the virus for his political advantage. Instead of giving states what they need, he appears to be strategically fulfilling requests to governors who say nice things about him. Those who dare to criticize, Trump attacks like a fifth grade bully.  He called Governor Jay Inslee a snake.  He lies about the quick U.S. response – it was not quick, it was delayed. He claims that he has saved millions of lives because he closed off the U.S. to Europe and China, which is not true; he even had a UK exemption initially, perhaps due to business interests, and the UK has had one of the worst outbreaks and least effective responses to it in the world.  And none of this even mattered because the virus was already spreading in the U.S.

The death toll projections for the U.S. are expected to be around 60,000 which is a much lower number than originally anticipated, and Trump is already taking credit for this, saying his swift action has made all the difference. Where is the empathy? To date, almost 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide and nearly 17,000 in the U.S.  Other than Trump and his blindly loyal supporters, who could argue that 60,000 U.S. dead is a winning number? By the way, 60,000 would be twice the number of deaths from the flu in a typical year in the U.S. and nearly twice as many car accidents. How many of these senseless deaths could have been prevented if Trump had really taken swift and decisive actions like some countries did, had he heeded the advice of experts long before the pandemic hit, and had he not dismantled a pandemic task force that was in place because it had Obama’s stamp of approval?

Look at the numbers in Finland, Germany, and So. Korea.  What do these countries have in common? They acted early by massively testing and by locking things down. They prevented rampant community spread so that their hospital systems wouldn’t be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Neighboring countries of Germany and Finland like the UK and Sweden that acted late have been hit much harder and have significantly higher death rates.

Trump claims that the U.S. is testing like no other, more tests than anyone, and that may be true, but not more tests per capita, not even close to Germany or So. Korea. And he said that anyone could get a test who wants one, which was probably the most impactful lie of the 60,000 plus he has told while in office to date, because as everyone knows in the U.S., it’s next to impossible to get a test unless gravely ill. Even health workers in some areas are not able to get a test.

The failure of the federal government to effectively deal with the COVID-19 outbreak will be Trump’s downfall. Trump’s incompetence has cost American lives, not saved them. His lies are insidious and designed to mask his failures as a leader. Rather than owning up to his errors, he blames the governors – saying they acted too late. This is classic gaslighting. In fact, states have mostly had to act on their own – secure their own ventilators, buy their own PPE. They’ve had to recruit volunteer resources where there are shortages of nurses and doctors. They have had to lead the U.S. response because the federal government refuses to step up or is not prepared to. Now that is not to say that the federal government has done nothing. They have deployed the army corps of engineers to build temporary hospitals. They have sent some supplies to various states – ventilators, PPE, test kits in a disorganized fashion. They did steer two military ships to ports in California and New York to treat patients. They did issue some basic guidelines to stop the spread of the virus – first it was 15 days, as if the virus would be defeated in two weeks, then that was revised to 30 days giving some the false hope that it would go away in a month. Trump desperately wants the country to get back to work, to boost the economy and improve his election chances, the virus be damned.  And that attitude may cost more Americans their lives.

And this is not to say that there are currently no efforts to fight the virus and treat the victims. Far from it. The front line workers, the nurses, the doctors, EMTs and other emergency responders are working tirelessly. They are heroes. They risk their lives everyday to save and protect others even without the proper gear to protect themselves in some cases. They are literally the ones saving lives, not Trump. Additionally, many governors and mayors throughout the country have responded much more  effectively than the federal government, taking cues from health officials rather than partisan politicians who question data and dismiss science as a hoax. They make the Trump administration’s response look small, petty,  ill-informed, and dangerous.

We will get through this pandemic together. But it will take a coordinated response. If the feds won’t lead, the states and cities will have to continue to take charge and keep the pedal to the metal to paraphrase Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump may encourage businesses to re-open before it is safe to do so, and may claim that the virus has been defeated – maybe he’s stupid enough to believe his own lie. But most Americans know the truth that no one is safe anywhere until there is a vaccine, and that might be 18 months out.

So, stop the spread. Stay home if you can. If you have to go out, keep your distance, wear a mask and gloves, wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, cough into your elbow, disinfect anything you bring into the house from the outside. Wash clothes after going out. Disinfect door handles. Don’t shake anyone’s hands. Self-isolate if sick and call/contact the doctor. Have food or medicine delivered. Get supplies of prescription meds for 90 days if possible. Look after your loved ones especially the elderly and infirm. Check in on friends (by phone or computer). Listen to the doctors and public health officials. Be safe. Better days are ahead.

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2020 Las Vegas Dem Debate

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And then there were 6 – Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar and Bloomberg.

If I were Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar or Bloomberg, I’d go after Sanders primarily tonight. I think the Bernie Bros would be one issue worth bringing up.  I would demand that Sanders disavow – that he pledges to investigate and root out the divisive intimidators in his campaign. Second, I’d question his ability to unify the country.  The Democrat tent is much more than a progressive block of activists, socialists, college students, and people 40 and under.  I would question whether a socialist can win the support of Democrats in the critical states of PA, OH, MN, MI and WI.  Any Democrat can win HI, CA, IL, NY, DE, and the NE states.  If I were one of the other 5 candidates, I’d make my case that I could win the key rust belt states. I’d argue that I would expand access to health care (and not end it for those who have it). I’d pledge to kill the tariffs that have hit farmers hard. I’d promise to clean up the environment and rebuild the EPA.  I’d commit to an agenda that would tackle the issue of climate change. I’d end fracking and invest in alternative energy sources, thus creating more jobs and would look to invest in  the nuclear energy sector. I’d commit to other infrastructure projects including upgrading the electrical grid, repairing roads and bridges and modernizing rail and airports.  Finally, I’d commit to visas for all migrant agriculture workers and a path to citizenship for all who want it as part of a comprehensive immigration reform.

This debate should not be about taking Bloomberg down.  He’ll likely do that himself.  No, it’s time to take Bernie down a notch and once the race tightens, the field should go after the Bloomberg candidacy.  Do we really want another billionaire running the country?  The one in office now has nearly destroyed the nation and all of its democratic institutions.

Hey, Dems – it’s anyone’s race.  It’s not too late.  Hang in there.

3 Weeks a Vegan

I’ve been a meat eater all my life.  A carnivore’s carnivore.  I once went on an all-meat diet and took desiccated liver supplements to maximize my protein intake.  That was a long time ago.  I’ve been eating more sensibly since and have started following a vegan diet. I did it not so much for health reasons or ethical reasons but because my daughter challenged me.  Once I accepted the challenge, I began to think about the many dietary changes I needed to make and I had to convince myself that it was in my best interests to eat healthy.  I figured I’d add a few years to my lifespan, maybe even become immortal, if not immortal, at least help to keep the planet alive longer by reducing my carbon footprint. I have not been able to convince myself that eating meat is cruel to animals or a savage practice.  It would be quite hypocritical of me to adopt that stance after so many years of eating meat and fishing.

After three weeks of not eating any meat or dairy and getting all my nutrition from plants, I can say that I feel pretty good.  I have the same amount of energy, perhaps even more than before.  I’m snacking way less and consuming fewer calories and losing weight – not that I need to – about 6 pounds so far.  After I eat a vegan meal, I generally feel quite satisfied, but never stuffed.  I also find that I don’t have as much of a lingering aftertaste like I did after eating meat and dairy.  Though there is one issue that has almost been a deal breaker – not being able to put milk in my morning coffee.  I have never liked non-dairy creamers or any kind of cream for that matter. The only thing I like in coffee is 2% organic milk.  Now I’m stuck with coconut/almond creamer that really takes the fun and taste out of coffee.  Soy is better but it irritates my throat.  I’m getting used to almond milk though.  And it does seem to fare reasonably well in lattes as a replacement for milk.

I have also begun taking B12 and D3 supplements and probiotics to fight off deficiencies.   I go for a physical in March and if my blood work is stellar, I’ll stay on the vegan diet for as long as I can.  If there are no changes or negative changes to my health as measured by blood tests, I’ll ditch the vegan diet in favor of a vegetarian one but limit my dairy.  We’ll see.

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On to SC and NV

Now it’s on to Nevada and South Carolina.  Dems in the more diverse states will have to figure out who they think can beat Trump and also speak to their issues.  Who is best on the economy? Who can unite the country? Who can lead the charge on immigration reform that can pass both chambers? Who has less baggage? Who can solve climate change? Who can bring back the rule of law but also put forward criminal justice reform? Who is best for down ballot candidates to give the dems the best shot at keeping the House and winning back the Senate. Who will make gun control a priority?

Is the rest of the country in love with Bernie? Can he expand the base and turn out more voters? Will his rhetoric motivate baby boomers, independents and former Trump supporters.  Have the electorate given up on Biden and Warren? Is Mayor Pete for real? Does Klobuchar have appeal in states outside of Minnesota with a diverse population? Is Bloomberg a spoiler who will guarantee a brokered convention and become the billionaire who saved the day?

Lots of questions to answer.  Stay tuned.

 

Farenheit 451 Book Review

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought I had read this when a kid but upon reading it “again” I didn’t remember any of it which is ironic given the message of the importance of memory to the preservation of books that may one day disappear. In fact, those days are already upon us as evidenced by the attack from the anti-intellectual alt right that have created an alternate universe where fact is fiction, knowledge is suspect, and the arts are impractical. In the error of Trump, the U.S. finds itself “led” by a man who reportedly refuses to read anything that is not about himself.

In Fahrenheit 451, books are banned and people’s lives are consumed by idiotic TV broadcasts. While today, books compete with the Internet, social media, video streams, movies, video games, and televised sports.  Books have lost their luster in the digital age and are even feared.  There have been regular bans and ritual burning of books that are found by certain communities to be objectionable.

In Fahrenheit 451, an obsession with war and destruction culminates in near nuclear annihilation. People are so dumbed down that they have no idea what is going on. In today’s society, some 63 million prideful low information voters elected a failed businessman who does not like to read who once wondered why we have nuclear weapons if we can’t use them. We are living in dystopian times.

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Fear: Trump in the White House Review

Fear: Trump in the White HouseFear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting but not this. I was struck by how it read like an episode from The West Wing full of chaos and drama. Woodward managed to inject order into the chaos and in doing so, painted Trump in a somewhat sympathetic light. His journalistic sense of neutrality is on display as he presented the first year and half of the Trump presidency as a series of huge moments where Trump’s “instincts” enabled by manipulative forces from Steve Bannon, to Peter Navarro and Fox News clashed with the views of key advisors, like the generals and Gary Cohn, who tried to be the adults in the room. Woodward takes us through defining events including the bungled response to the tragedy at Charlottesville, the Twitter wars with North Korea, the steel tariff, and Trumps pulling out of the Paris accords and trade agreements. At every decision point, Trump seems to look through a lens with three filters that revealed how he would look to supporters and the media, how much it would cost and what would the U.S. (or he) get in return. For example, he couldn’t understand why the U.S. couldn’t mine all the minerals in Afghanistan, or why the U.S. had to spend so much on NATO and the defense of South Korea. He couldn’t understand why we don’t just put the U.S. military out for hire. His instincts are to run the country like a Trump business to make money or enhance the brand. And to Trump, the brand should be about toughness and winning. Everything is winning or losing. He scoffs at the word globalism, a term he clearly learned from Steve Bannon.

Significant attention is paid to the carping between the president and his advisors and their battle for power and influence. The narrative is critical of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner who seem to have their own agenda and to have unlimited access to the president, undermining others. Some of the more incendiary bits revealed how Trump’s closest advisors viewed him. One of Trump’s lawyers, John Dowd, called Trump (charitably) incapable of telling the truth. Secretary of State Tillerson called Trump a “moron”. Chief of Staff Kelly offered a variation on the theme calling Trump an “idiot” while National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn called him an “asshole”.

What becomes clear in the narrative is just how impulsive Trump can be (something I think we all have observed) but also just how easily he can be talked down from a bad idea. Increasingly, though, trying to put controls on Trump so that rational and ordered decisions could be made became so frustrating and impossible that many of the “adults in the room” left the administration. Now Trump has few guardrails in place to save him and the country from his bad instincts, one of the reasons he was impeached. To compound matters, he is surrounded by yes men and manipulators who have their own (very often bad) agendas – think Pompeo, Miller, Kushner, and Barr.

What Woodward did not explore were the origins of Trump’s bad ideas – that free trade and a free press are bad, and by extension that democracy is bad; that alliances and agreements are bad; that regulations are bad; that immigration is bad; and that protests against white supremacy are bad. Trump’s racism has been on display for years dating back to housing discrimination rulings against Trump properties, the Central Park 5, and Trump’s erroneous claim that Obama was not born in the United States and was an illegitimate president. Woodward does not explore the roles of Bannon and Miller in any detail or the influence of Fox “News” propaganda on Trump’s world view. And importantly, there isn’t much on the cozy relationship between Putin, Trump and the Republicans. Trump appears to support policies that favor Russia over the interest of the U.S. Why is that?

But the book is really more of a document of the Trump presidency up close and behind the scenes as experienced by the major players. It does not attempt to explain how or why Trump got elected, or to suggest that Trump is a bad president, though definitely one we should fear. Nor does he suggest Trump should be impeached and removed. That is left up the reader, including the meaning of the title, Fear: Trump in the White House. My own interpretation is that we should fear Trump more than ever now precisely because the guardrails are off and all the adults are gone or have flipped and become enablers (like Lindsay Graham) leaving the controls to an impulsive, unpredictable, failed businessman who has terrible instincts, undemocratic ideas, and no clue how to govern.

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The Plot to Destroy Democracy Review

The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the WestThe Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West by Malcolm W. Nance

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to know how the failed businessman and narcissistic con artist Donald J. Trump managed to become the president of the United States, read this book. To understand what he has done to erode our democratic institutions and norms, and who this benefits the most, read this book. Our collective knowledge of the consequences of the 2016 election could help prevent another kleptocracy from ever taking root again in the U.S. While Malcolm Nance’s writing in spots has a bureaucratic wonkiness to it, his arguments are clear, well-supported, and eye-opening. The Plot to Destroy Democracy is an important and timely work.

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Trump’s Ship of Fools

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The Grateful Dead were never very political although they did a lot of fund raisers and seemed to have a social conscience, a sort of spirit that goes against all that Trump stands for.  Whereas, the Dead always had a wall of sound so that everyone could hear the music, Trump has always wanted to build a wall to keep people out.  The Grateful Dead were always about bringing people together, never alienating or walling out.  So it is in this spirit that I propose to describe the Trump years with Grateful Dead songs.

Looks Like Rain (1972)

Despite the fact that it did rain at his inauguration, Trump declared that the sun was actually shining in what can only be described as a “Sunshine Daydream” (coda from Sugar Magnolia 1970)

Ship of Fools (1974)

It’s a cautionary tale to Republicans who have cast their lot with the devil in a soul destroying Faustian bargain.

Dark Star (1968)

The Republicans appear to be navigating by the Dark Star that may just steer the ship of fools into a giant rock.

Not Fade Away (1957 – Buddy Holly and the Crickets; first played by the Dead in 1968)

Trump may believe that he is above the law but the impeachment stain will not fade away.

Loser (1971 – Garcia/Hunter)

Not only did Trump not win the popular vote in 2016 even with Russian assistance, he lost control of the House in the 2018 midterms.  And 7 of Trump’s associates have been convicted of crimes and have either already served time, are currently in prison or awaiting sentencing.

Mexicali Blues (1971)

Trump is singing the Mexicali blues because he can’t get the wall built, and he couldn’t get Mexico to pay for it, or anyone else for that matter.

Going Down the Road Feeling Bad (arr. 1971 – Traditional, 1924 )

Trump says he doesn’t feel like he’s been impeached but you know that he is going down the road feeling bad, as suggested by the all-caps Twitter tirades and that 6 page rant of a letter to Nancy Pelosi.

 

 

Trump’s Priorities

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I’ve refrained from writing much about the Trump years partly because I still can’t believe he was elected president.  It feels like a cruel joke and I’ve suffered terribly watching the Trump administration roll out the most vile policies and comments that I have ever seen or heard from politicians in the U.S.  Trump has been an utter disgrace and embarrassment to a majority of Americans.  And that he still has the support of 45% or so in his pocket frightens me. I say still because despite his racism, bigotry, lying, criminality, and just overall ignorance in every area in which a president should have expertise, his supporters remain loyal.  I get why Republicans politicians support him. They won’t cross him for fear of being shamed and primaried. However, the MAGA crowd seems to view him as a sort of sports figure who they love to cheer on.  He’s the underdog with power who is kicking the liberal butts.  They don’t like elite liberals who make them feel inadequate, and they see in Trump a kind of savior.  They fanatically and uncritically embrace all that he says and does defending even the most deplorable policies.  And they don’t seem to understand that Trump’s ineffective policies and inept leadership have in many cases made their lives appreciably worse.  They don’t get that Trump is President (by accident) to further his own brand and that he could care less about them.  He wants to be reelected to stay out of prison, not to MAGA. His idea of make America great is to sell it to the highest bidder – Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the fossil fuel industry or to anyone else with cash.  I can’t help but wonder if his antics with Kim Jong Un are nothing more than a ploy to get himself a Nobel Prize or a lucrative North Korean land deal for a future Trump Hotel and Resort.  His deference to Russia clearly suggests he’s more interested in future financial deals and gaining acceptance into the Dictator Club than he is in preserving democracy.  He’s less interested in border security than he is in creating a monument to himself in the shape of a wall.

As to priorities other than himself, his family and his brand, let’s look at some of the key vacancies in executive branch positions that need Senate confirmation.  Out of 726  positions, 137 have no nominees even named.  These vacancies say a lot about Trump’s priorities. Below are a list of a few with brief commentary:

Homeland Security has only an acting director and just 41% of positions within the department filled.  One would think that the 2 billion request for the wall might be more wisely spent to adequately staff the department.  Amazingly, Homeland Security has no Deputy Secretary, no CFO, no Undersecretary for Management, no ICE Directors, (one just announced after two withdrew their nominations) and no Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Over at the Justice Department, less than half of the positions have been filled (and we are almost three years into the Trump presidency). There’s no nominee for Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Program Division (surprised?), no Assistant Attorney general for the Tax Division (but of course not), no DEA Administrator or Deputy Administrator,  no Parole Commissioners, no Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices, and no Director of Community Relations Service.

At the Department of Interior, incredibly, there is no Director for the National Parks Service, one of the most treasured of our resources and widely visited by tourists from all over the world. But not having a Director for the Parks Service is no accident because Trump hates the environment and can’t understand why we don’t just chop down the forests and frack the hell out of Yellowstone.

Even the Executive Office of the President is understaffed. Clearly key positions are deemed unimportant like Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy and of course who needs an Associate Director for Technology Policy? Not Trump.  I mean, there’s no need to secure our elections or to invest in technology.  We have the Internet, what could be more advanced? And there’s no Chairman for Economic Advisers, and no members even nominated for the Council on Environmental Quality, but who cares about the environment and we all know global warming and climate change are a big hoax.  God is just punishing Macron with a hot summer for levying a tax on big tech companies. We’ll get them back by taxing French wine and anyway, American wine looks better.

And here are some key ambassadorships that are vacant:

Ukraine, Honduras, Belize, Brazil, Chad, Chile, Cuba, Estonia, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Singapore, Tanzania.

I wonder if Putin told Trump to stay the hell out of Ukraine, Estonia, and Georgia.  And that we don’t have diplomatic relations with Brazil and Chile is unconscionable.  No diplomat in Japan, what?  And how on earth are we supposed to address the refugee crisis on the border if we have not established a diplomatic relationship with Honduras? Oh, right, Bolton says we can’t do diplomacy.  And that’s also what Senator Tom Cotton is whispering into the President’s ear.