Setting the Bar

This just in: Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Let’s start with this – I absolutely believe that it is physically impossible for anything to accelerate to a speed that is faster than light. Einstein said so and countless others that followed him agree.

Having said that, if the government announced that it was funding a massive research project to find a way to accelerate to a speed faster than that of light…I would stand up and applaud.

Why would I do that? Why would I want to “waste” time and money on a task I believe is doomed to fail?

There are a few reasons; the first being…maybe Einstein was wrong. If he was, then the universe suddenly becomes our playground. We could fling ourselves to the stars and live to see new worlds opened up. The prize would be fantastic beyond imagination.

Another reason is that the offshoots of such a program could also provide benefits beyond our imagination. Do a Google Search for “Things discovered by accident” and you’ll see what I mean.

And finally, there is the hope that it brings. I would love to read daily updates on this type of research instead of daily updates on indictments of Trump’s “best people”. Even if it was hopeless, I would still find hope. I know this because I still buy the occasional lottery ticket even while I’m well aware that I’m more likely to be eaten by a polar bear while shopping in Safeway than winning the lottery.

This same attitude makes me inclined to often say “Don’t tell me that we can’t do this or that.”

For Example:

  • Don’t tell me we can’t have the same level of healthcare at the same costs as other industrialized nations.
  • Don’t tell me we can’t get money out of politics.
  • Don’t tell me we can’t find a way to improve our national security without spending $750 billion a year on tanks and such.
  • Don’t tell me we can’t solve Global Warming.
  • Don’t tell me that we can’t educate or feed our children.
  • Don’t tell me that solving addiction is hopeless.
  • Don’t tell me that we can’t solve racism.
  • Don’t tell me that “truth in all things” is not possible.
  • Don’t tell me that we can’t build affordable housing, effective mass transportation and eliminate poverty.

Yes, these types of things are seemingly unattainable so…I refer you back to Henry Ford’s quote.

I’ll finish with a short story. This was mandatory reading for officers newly reporting to a cruiser I served on while in the Navy.

The USS Yorktown limped into Pearl Harbor after a battle in WWII. This was an aircraft carrier that was so damaged, it had a list that looked like it would turn over in a strong breeze.

The Admiral in charge (I am not sure of his name…Halsey?) asked the base commander how long wit would take before the carrier could go back to sea and launch aircraft. The answer was “6 months, Sir.”

The Admiral responded with, “You have 96 hours.”

Four days later, the Yorktown left port, ready for duty. It’s presence in the Pacific confused the Japanese who thought they had sunk this ship. It played a key role in the U.S. victory in the Battle of Midway.

The lesson here is…you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Perhaps this even applies to passing through the speed of light.

Up, up and away…

Jim

The Hidden Reason for the Trump/McConnell shutdown

This just in: If you believe that Trickle-Down Economics is a sound theory that actually works, stop reading now since this simply written blog is about to fly right over your 3rd grade level of economics.

Let’s set the stage…

When the Republican Party took over the House and the Senate, they changed the way their economic policies are graded.

Under Democrats, a policy would have its outcome predicted in advance. If the results came out different, there would be some “splaining” to do. Congress would have to admit that their actions were wrong and promise to do better in the future.

Under Republicans, this was changed to “Dynamic Scoring.” This means they could make a prediction about an outcome (as before) but now, they could readjust their prediction about the outcome once it actually happened. It allowed them to rewrite history so they would always be right.

Step 2 was to pass a massive tax cut for the rich.

The predictions in advance said everyone would get huge tax breaks and the economy would grow upwards of 5% per year. This is a huge rate of growth. Republicans also said that the increased economic activity would easily pay off the predicted multi-trillion dollar debt that would build up if things didn’t work out.

The result of the tax break is clear. Almost no one got a raise unless they were already rich. The debt is soaring out of control at a record pace. And as every educated economist predicted, our economy is heading into a recession now that the short term benefit of the tax break have passed.

These results are like a billboard on every highway in America that says, “Republicans have no idea what they are doing!!”

Now…let’s get back to that Dynamic Scoring…

I just read a headline that says “Even Republicans are fearing that the economy will have ZERO growth this year…”

But wait! There’s more.

According to Republicans, the reason growth will drop to ZERO is not because of the Tax Scam. No…they are saying, “We were right about the tax break causing huge growth. That is going just as expected…except the Government Shutdown is countering that growth so it will be ZERO. Thank goodness we passed that tax scam/bill.”

See what they are doing? They are acting as if the tax cut worked so the Republicans will bear no blame for the coming recession. Also, by blaming the shutdown, they hope to smear a least of bit of the blame on Democrats.

This also explains why Mitch McConnell is as interested in keeping this shutdown going as Trump. Trump is having a tantrum. Mitch is trying to hide his role in the coming recession.

So there you have it – Why the government is shutdown.

Yes, there are other reasons: (1) Russia told Trump to shut it down, (2) Trump needs a distraction from the Mueller probe.

I was going to add that Trump needed a distraction from the Cohen testimony but witness tampering by the President of the United States put an end to that threat.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

The Unthinkable Has Happened

This just in: Last week I had a momentary lapse and became gullible.

Here is what happened.

Many of you have seen that kid wearing the MAGA hat and taunting the native American.

I saw this and immediately bought into the narrative. I blamed his parents for raising a racist. I blamed Trump for promoting racism in the United States. I wanted to be angry about this because it fit in nicely with my ideas about “the other side of American.”

It turns out that there was more to this story.

I won’t go into the details but this was far from a bunch of high school kids picking on a native American. In fact, their version seems to support the fact that they were remaining passive in the face of instigation in an attempt to diffuse a complex situation.

So…I’m sorry. I fell for the very type of thing I blame so many others for.

Confirmation Bias causes us all to look for things we want to believe in and then, when we find that one thing that fits, we sit back smugly with an “I told you so” attitude.

I was wrong. The good news is, that when the fault is mine, then it’s within my ability to fix it. In this case, the “fix” is to realize that I’m not above the fray. I fell for this and will probably fall for something else all over again.

Damn it!

I thought superheroes would rise above such nonsense. Maybe some actually do. Maybe I’m just one bite from a radioactive spider away from being the perfect representation of Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Seems unlikely but you never know.

Up, up and away…

Jim

Illegal Drugs…solved

This just in: I just read where there was a major seizure of illegal drugs at an airport yesterday. It’s time to solve this problem.

Not only the drugs, but I heard a surfer landed in Malibu the other day towing a boat loaded with Chinese prostitutes. Add to this, the “rapist tunnels of Canada” where rapists, and other bad actors are entering our country illegally to have their way with our womenfolk.

We don’t need to put up with this any longer. I have a plan.

I think we should build walls around airports. I’m talking really, really tall walls. Yes, a plane can fly over walls but that’s not the point. The point is that a wall is a symbol that “We don’t take kindly to your kind here.”

On our southern border, we need to build underground walls to stop all of that tunnelling. We can get Canada to pay for it by promising not to build underground walls on our northern border and thus leaving their rapist trade uninterrupted.

As for these Mexican surfer dudes (I assume they are Mexican because of their dark skin, although that may be a tan)…we need something better than a wall. I suggest a moat. A moat around the entire nation’s coastline. This is a great idea for three reasons: (1) building a wall to keep out surfers is just stupid, (2) There is lots of readily available water to fill the moat and (3) Moats kept people out of castles like 2,000 years ago so they must work.

Aside from rapists and non-whites, there are others we need to be protected from. Take the homeless for example. We can wall them in as well; not with a wall that has slates, but a solid wall so we can’t see them and pretend they don’t exist. These don’t need to be tall walls because the homeless almost never have access to quality ladders.

As for those pesky religions that are not correct in their beliefs, we can put them in walled areas with a single exit. For them to get out, they must first get by my church’s greeter who will insist on shaking their hand and then asking if they have let Jesus Christ into their lives yet. This will keep them in with such effectiveness that we won’t even need a gate.

And finally, what to do with the gays. You know who I’m talking about; those people that gave their souls to the devil by acting in one of two ways: (1) a way I find offensive or (2) I way I want to behave but am afraid you will judge me and send me to hell.

I would write something now about lowering taxes for the rich in order to pay for our roads and schools but I can only pander to the Republicans out there so much before my soul withers and dies.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

The right side of History

This just in: I’ve decided to take a look into my crystal ball (all superheroes have one) and let you know what I see.

At some point in the future, hopefully not too distant, I see the following…

  1. People marvel at the idea of discrimination against people due to their sexual orientation. In fact, they rejoice at the variety of choices they freely indulge in without judgement.
  2. Religion as a “matter of faith” has been completely abandoned as a mainstream practice. It is replaced by science-based searches into “who we are” and “why are we here?”
  3. The color of one’s skin is celebrated as a contribution to the highly valued concept of “Diversity.”
  4. All people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, beliefs, intellect, wealth, education, heritage, location of birth and every other trait, are considered equally valuable to society and welcomed equally everywhere.
  5. Fact-checking is so instantaneous and widely accepted that News Agencies and Politicians have completely abandoned attempts to mislead.
  6. Science matters.
  7. Protecting the Earth’s ecosystem is the top priority of every person; a priority instilled at the time of birth and maintained throughout one’s life.
  8. Hunger and poverty are so far in the rear view mirror that they have become the stuff of scary stories told around campfires; Stories that scare us and then make us laugh because they are so unlikely.
  9. Freedom from fear is a mantra. The people of the world recognizes this as a wind that blows through all of us. We actively work together to help each other through this when it’s our time in the breeze.
  10. There is no more war; no more guns. Disagreements are worked through with thought and integrity. Violence is eliminated as the proverbial “last resort.”

There you have it. Just a peek. Reading back through all of these, I find #9 to be the most likely precursor to the others. So long and we have unbridled fear, we will behave like the barbarians whose DNA is still strong in all of us.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

And the Wall…came tumbling down

This just in: I know it’s been talked to death but I have a few words on the government shutdown and Trump’s wall.

Let’s start with this…”Tell them we will build a wall.” This is how Trump’s handlers got him to remember to talk about immigration during the campaign. It’s like saying, “Remember, a lot of our base is racist so you need to give them something racist to cheer about.”

Trump first said “We are going to build a wall” and then marvelled at how the crowd reacted. He then ad-libbed “And Mexico is going to pay for it” and the crowd went wild.

This reaction imprinted the idea of a wall on Trump’s infant mind.

Some facts:

  1. There is no crisis at the southern border. I won’t go into details. There is plenty of data about this. So, if you don’t believe me, then you are just listening to Trump or Fox News and there is no help for you.
  2. Trump sent Congress a budget, they came back and gave him what he asked for. But, in the meantime, Trump watched some TV and found that a couple of conservative talk show hosts scolded him for not getting a wall. When Congress came to Trump and said, “Here is what you asked for” Trump said…I have decided I also want a wall.
  3. If you want our country to be safe, pay the Coast Guard who is currently not being paid.
  4. If you want our country to be safe, pay TSA agents who are currently not being paid.
  5. The shutdown directly affects 800,000 paychecks from people that work for the government. However, millions are feeling the impact indirectly or as government services stop.

Now, It’s okay for the president to veto a budget submitted to him by Congress. If Congress really wants something but the president vetoes them, then Congress can override his veto with a 67% vote.

Mitch McConnell will not even allow this vote to take place. This, even though they had a nearly 100% approval of the budget sent to Trump.

McConnell won’t hold this vote because it will force some senators to either publicly vote for the government shutdown (in support of Trump) or it will make senators publicly vote against Trump, thus earning them nicknames.

It’s clear to me that the public wants the shutdown to end.

It’s clear to me that the public does not want a wall.

It’s clear to me that Trump is stuck in some alternative reality where he thinks he is actually a great negotiator.

It’s clear to me that if Congress actually represented the public, they would allow an override vote of Trump’s veto.

It’s clear to me that the Republican Party is afraid of Trump.

And sadly, its clear to me that about 38% of Americans are okay with all of this and thus….we are being governed by the minority.

Conclusion: The Republican Party is far more interested in power and keeping their jobs than they are in actually doing their jobs and promoting a true Democratic government.

Just sayin…

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

Where are the Republicans?

This just in: Yesterday, the Republican Party peeked out from under its rock and condemned the racist remarks of Steve King, one of their own. Following that…they slipped back into the darkness with a smug sense of “Mission Accomplished.”

I’m left wondering, “Is that it? Is that all they think their job is…naming post offices and occasionally pretending to condemn racism?”

They are supposed to make our laws. They are supposed to spend our taxes. They are supposed to represent a Checks-And-Balances on the other branches of the government. In fact, each of the 3 branches is supposed to keep the other branches from things like….treason, for example.

Checks and Balances….I guess that is what I’m missing most right now. Let’s look at a few ways the Republican Party is failing in this endeavour…

Word has just leaked out that Trump has been asking aides for the last year if he can pull the United States out of NATO. Where are the Republicans?

Is has recently been released that Trump has kept all notes from his Putin meetings so that no record exists of what has transpired between these two over the last 2 years. Where are the Republicans?

The New York Times reports that the FBI initiated an investigation into Trump as a possible agent for Russia following his firing of Comey. Where are the Republicans?

Trump has allowed the crown prince of Saudi Arabia to get away with murdering a reporter that lives in the United States. Where are the Republicans.

Trump is holding the government hostage for a wall. Congress has the votes to override his veto and reopen the government. This is up to Mitch McConnell to do. He won’t. Where are the Republicans?

Trump has numerous violations of the emolument clause of the Constitution. He is using his position as president to make money from foreign countries. This is blatantly illegal. Where are the Republicans?

Trump has pulled out of nearly every international trade agreement. Where are the Republicans?

Trump has put tariffs in place starting a global trade war. He is only allowed to do this in the interest of national security. There is no emergency and the tariffs are hurting our economy. Where are the Republicans?

Trump uses racist language all the time. Where are the Republicans?

Trump is separating families at the border; putting children in prison-like camps. Where are the Republicans?

Trump announces, after ZERO consultation, that he is pulling all of our troops out of Syria. Where are the Republicans.

Trump is lying openly about the danger posed by our southern border. Where are the Republicans?

Oh wait!!! I found them!!

While all of this Trump stuff was going on…the Republicans…

  1. Passed a tax cut for the very, very rich which is driving our national debt up at a record pace.
  2. They conducted an investigation on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and quickly decided that nothing happened. This, as Mueller, investigating the same thing, is cranking out one indictment after another.

Aside from that…the Republican Party has been conspicuously absent. There is a reason for this – They fear Trump’s maniac base. If they cross Trump, he will give them a nickname and they will then lose their next election.

So, the Republican Party has elected to let Trump go unchecked; even as he tries to pull us out of NATO, just to protect their jobs.

We are governed by cowards.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

How to end the shutdown

This just in: A few days ago, China put something on the far side of the moon. I marvelled at this for a bit. Good for them. They set out to do something and they did it.

At about the same time, a young woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood up in the House of Representatives and cast her vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

As she did this…the nearly all male…nearly all white and nearly all old Republicans booed her.

That’s right. They booed a young woman that was doing her job. They booed her, not because they disagreed with her, but because they fear her. They fear what she represents. A strong woman. A bright woman. A woman that came to office with the singular purpose of representing those that voted for her.

Imagine that – An elected official that wants to do her job rather than feed at the trough of special interests.

Now…on to the subject of this post – How to end the government shutdown

The current situation is as follows: (1) The president will not sign a bill funding the government unless there is $5.6 billion in it for a wall. (2) The Democrats will not vote for any bill that has any money in it for a wall and (3) The Republican led Senate sits on the sideline saying, “This is a fight between Democrats and Trumps. We are not involved.”

Here’s the deal. A funding bill was already sent to Trump. It passed both the House and the Senate by huge margins. Trump vetoed the bill.

Now what?

The obvious answer is….Simply override the veto.

That’s all it take. If 2/3 of the House and Senate vote to override the veto, the bill is passed and the government opens. Now, all of the Democrats will vote to override the veto. All we need is for the Senate and Republicans to do their jobs.

To be clear…It’s within the ability of Congress to pass a spending bill and reopen the government at any time.

At. Any. Time.

So, when Mitch McConnell sits on the sidelines and says it’s not his job…he is telling you that he doesn’t want to do his job.

Trump can’t help himself. He’s damaged goods. However, Republicans can start doing their jobs and just leave Trump to sit in from of the television watching Fox and Friends. We don’t need him.

In conclusion….the Government Shutdown is the fault of the Republican Party and their refusal to do their jobs.

Just sayin…

Up, up and away…

Jim

My Year-End Summary

This just in: As I do every year, I will summarize my experiences. I don’t do this for you so much as keeping a record for myself.

Let’s start with this – I saw an online survey the other day where people were asked about bad habits that they wish they didn’t have. A huge amount of them were things like, “I shouldn’t spend so much time on my phone” or “I shouldn’t get hooked on youtube videos for hour after hour,” or “I should play fewer online games.”

I get this. At one point, earlier this year, I felt like I was wasting a lot of time reading news and such. I set out to fix this. I made a list of 20 things I wanted to accomplish on a daily basis. My goal was to actually do at least 10 out of the 20 every day. Below is my list. I actually failed to meet my goal since I only accomplished 8.8 per day on an average. Note the “points”, I keep track of this as each point is about a calorie burned. This year I got 145,000 points which represents the number of calories in about 45 pounds of fat. Note: I started the year at 207 pounds and ended at 196 pounds.

  1. Pushup (1 point for a normal pushup and 2 points per pushup using a device that makes them harder). This year I did 7,900 pushups. I started with 10 per day and my highest day was 180.
  2. Pullups (5 points per pullup) I started with 5 per day and finished the year with 7,500 pullups doing 160 on my highest day.
  3. Stationary bike (5 points per minute) I did 43 hours this year.
  4. Walking (5 points per minute) walking must be something I do extra. I don’t get points for walking the dog or walking around the house.
  5. Morning Yoga and Core exercise (200 points) I do 30 minutes of this every day before I leave the bedroom. I have done this 292 days in a row. It has saved my back which has 2.5 herniated discs.
  6. Hit golf balls or play golf.
  7. Write (15 minutes minimum)
  8. Do a random act of kindness
  9. Meditate (15 minutes minimum)
  10. Learn Chinese (15 minutes minimum)
  11. Practice Spanish (15 minutes minimum)
  12. Hang upside down (for my back)
  13. Watch an online course from TheGreatCourses.com (15 minutes minimum)
  14. Drink 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  15. Drink a glass of water
  16. Call a friend or family member
  17. Don’t eat desert
  18. Eat a salad
  19. Read a book (15 minutes minimum)
  20. Bush teeth AND Dental pick And Neti pot

That’s it for fitness. Now for a few other highlights.

I visited Canada and 13 states. I flew 140,000 miles on 105 different planes and spent 80 nights in hotels. I worked with about 15 different companies on projects of varying size.

The New Year’s resolution for 2018 was “Expansion”. This means experiencing more of life in a variety of ways.

I feel like I accomplished this to some degree.

My list was a big help. I was stuck in a routine and felt like I was wasting time that could otherwise be more productive or value added as far as life experiences go.

The list worked for me. However, we are all different and such a thing may not work for you. I do know this, I’m going to take credit for writing for 15 minutes today just because of this blog post. So…at least the list made me do that.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

Danger Will Robinson, Danger!

This just in:  Today, I’d like to piggy-back on my post from yesterday where I wrote about the abrupt decision to take our troops out of Syria.

A lot has happened since then.

First, I learned a lot about the value of those troops in Syria.  I now understand why many are calling this move the biggest foreign policy blunder in decades.

I also learned that Trump took a call from Erdogan, Turkey’s dictator.  It seems that Erdogan has wanted to go into Syria and kill all of our allies, the Kurds.  Only our troops presence has stopped him.  So, Erdogan calls Trump and the next thing you know, out come our troops.

I also leaned that later yesterday, Putin praised Trump’s move to take the troops out of Syria.  In the press conference, Putin said we should take troops out of Afghanistan as well.  Three hours later, Trump announces we are pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

Also yesterday, Trump signaled to the GOP that he would sign a stop-gag bill to fund the government into February even if it had no money for his wall or moat or whatever primeval device he wants.  Then  Fox News, Conservative pundits like Laura Ingram, Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh got on the airwaves and said, “Trump’s base will leave him if he gives in on this wall issue.”  A couple of hours later, Trump did a 180 and decided that he will let the government shut down even though his own party strongly disagrees with him.

As for the Secretary of Defense, he quit citing that he (Matis) thinks we should support our allies and not give in to our enemies.  Matis went on to say that these beliefs were not in keeping with Trump’s beliefs.  Think about that.

Note that Trump has lost 13 cabinet level members in 2 years.  That is more than the 3 previous administrations lost in 24 years combined!

All of this is just my observations.  Go online and find all the sources that you want.

Reach your own conclusion.

My conclusion is this: (1) Trump works for Putin, (2) Trump is a coward and is backing out of Syria to avoid a conflict with Turkey (3) Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox, is as much our president as Trump or Putin and here is the biggie…(4) Losing Matis as Secretary of Defense will allow Trump to put in a lapdog that will agree with any insane idea that pops into Trump’s tiny little mind.

The world has suddenly become a very dangerous place.

Time to save it.

Up, up and away…

Jim