The Interview

This just in:  I was walking down the street today when I came across a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.  I stopped him and asked if I could interview him.  Here is the “hypothetical” interview.

Me:  What did you think when you saw Trump on stage with Putin?  He said our intelligence was wrong.  He blamed Russian interference on the United States and said that he didn’t believe Russia interfered with our elections because Putin “strongly” denied it.

MAGA: Trump is a genius.  He is playing Putin.  Right now, Putin is fooled into believing that Trump is his friend.  Trump will use this to his advantage later.  He pretended to agree with Putin but really he doesn’t.

Me:  Speaking of “later”, what did you think when Trump later said he believed our own intelligence agencies and blamed Russia for interfering in our elections?

MAGA: Trump speaks his mind.  When he makes a mistake, he’s a man about it.  The only reason we are even talking about this is because the fake news is trying to bring him down.

Me: Last night, Trump reversed himself yet again and said the Russian interference thing was all a hoax.  How do you explain that?

MAGA: The press has always been against Trump.  This is fake news.  If this was such a big deal, why didn’t they throw Hillary in jail over her emails or Benghazi?

Me: Tell me what you know about Hillary’s emails or Benghazi.

MAGA: ….

Me: Okay…new subject.  What do you think about Trump’s immigration policies?

MAGA (evangelical version):  Everyone knows that Muslims are infiltrating our country.  They are terrorists and they are trying to bring Sharia law into our country.  God has sent Trump to us in order to preserve our Christian heritage just like our founding fathers wanted.

MAGA (white supremist version): Everyone knows that Mexican gangs are flooding across our borders.  What we should be talking about is the fact that Democrats want Mexican gang members here so that our daughters will be raped.  Trump is just trying to preserve our white culture, just like the founding fathers wanted.

I started to ask about Trump’s economic policies, his foreign policies, his attacks against NATO and his propensity to lie…about everything…but I could tell the interview was over as MAGA’s eyes began to glass over.  It looked like he’d run out of data and would not be able to talk again until a fix of FOX NEWS tells him what to believe.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

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Is Shipping Really Free?

This just in:  I’m a huge Amazon fan.  I buy all kinds of stuff online and love the fact that I can get everything delivered to my doorstep in 2 days.  Shipping is always free…or is it?

The other day, my wife asked me to buy a certain type of mouthwash.  It was seawater or something like that.  I found it on Amazon and bought it in about 3 microseconds.  Two days later, it shows up and I give the package to my wife.  She opens the package and says, “Did you know you just paid $23.63 for something I can buy anywhere for about $6?”  Stunned, I did a little research online and she was right.  It actually cost me $10 to send it back but in the end, that $10 plus $6 for the product still saved me a lot of money.

Since then I have been paying attention.  The other day, I was at a sporting goods store for camping gear.  I saw a pop-up trash can for $10.  I had no idea if this was a good idea so I checked Amazon where the exact same thing was on sale for $15 and claimed to be marked down from $20.  A few days later, during Amazon’s “Prime  Day” sale, the same product had been marked “down/up” to $23 because…you know…there was a sale.

Next, I was driving around somewhere and it occurred to me that if I invented a hand-held carpet shampoo device, I would be rich.  First…check the internet to see if this has already been done.  Turns out it has.  There are two versions that seem to be popular.  One is $70 from the manufacturer and is also $70 on Amazon.  The other is $80 from the manufacturer and $100 on Amazon.

Now, to be clear.   I love Amazon.  I love the convenience.  I love the idea of being able to find something that I would otherwise have no idea where to buy it.  I once needed a 9-inch bolt with two 45 degree bends in it to mount an air filter in my 31 year old Jeep.  Amazon had it.

But…

I have only just started comparison shopping and thus far…Amazon is either equal in price or more expensive than the competition.

So, buyer beware..

Having said all of that, I remain a Jeff Bezos fan if for no other reason than he is saving the series The Expanse.  Plus…his Washington Post is a voice of reason in a world where “reason” is losing its luster.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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And the simplest answer is…

This just in:  “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

Yes, there are two sides to every story and every coin.  Yes, we have differing opinions and you are certainly welcome to yours.  Yes, they all do it.

However, don’t be fooled into a false equivalency.  Both sides of an issue are not necessarily equal in merit.

For example, if I point at a rock and say, “That is a rock” and you point at the same rock and say, “That is the Eiffel Tower,” one of us is wrong.  Just because we are equal in number and welcome to our own perspectives, we are not necessarily equal in the truth of what we say.

This, and the opening quote, are all intended to set up the following statement…

Congress and the president are offering convoluted explanations to justify their actions; explanations that fall far short of the lowest believability threshold.

My belief is not that they are stupid.  My belief is that they pretend to believe certain things because their “salaries depend on it.”

Let’s take climate change.  The scientific community is in one voice about this.  It is real.  However, Republicans and the President, who are largely funded by the fossil fuel industry, find it hard to believe in it.  Big oil pays then to not believe in it.

How about “trickle down economics” which is the widely disproven idea that if you give tax breaks to the rich, they will create more jobs.  The Republican Party is a huge fan of unlimited campaign contributions from the very rich.  These “very rich” pay the Republicans to believe that tax cuts for the rich actually work.

The Russian funded NRA pays Republicans to believe that gun proliferation has nothing to do with the 35,000 annual gun deaths in the United States.  Republicans believe this because they are paid to believe it.

Now we get to Donald Trump.

Why does Trump have a hard time saying, “I believe Russia is continuing to hack our elections.”?  He has perfect information available to him.  He must have an absolute certainty that this is the case; and yet, he denies it.

Why?

Trump’s job depends on his not believing that Russia is interfering in our elections.

His job depends on it because Putin told him so.  Which, in turn, says that Putin has the ability to end Trump’s presidency.

I absolutely believe this.  However, if you pay me enough money, I might be convinced to believe otherwise. A lot of money…

Up, up and away…

Jim

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The Trump “Walkback”

This just in:  Following Global outrage at Trump’s performance with Putin on Monday, the president decided to rewrite history, putting himself in a better light.

Let’s recap.

I will be paraphrasing here…

The Before Picture

Trump:  I think our intelligence is wrong because Putin very strongly told me so.  I also think that Putin has a great idea.

Putin:  America will give us their intelligence, so we can tell how they wrongly reached the conclusion that we interfered in U.S. Elections.

Democrats:  This is treason

The World: This is treason

The Republicans:  NATO is good, M’kay.

The After Picture

Trump:  I think that I misspoke the other day.  I meant to say that “peach is the best of all cobblers, although, there may be other cobblers as well.  There is just no way to tell for certain.”

Democrats:  Who would believe this bullshit.

The World:  Who would believe this bullshit.

The Republicans:  Whew.  We’re glad he cleared that up so let’s get back to doing something else.

Trump followers: We too love peach cobbler.  Trump is the best.

So there you have it.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Putting the pieces together…

This just in:  Our Constitution’s system of “checks and balances” is not working.  The three branches of government are not keeping each other in check.  Now I think I know why.

I think we all know by now that Trump works for Russia.  I can go through the list but it comes down to two facts: (1) Trump is actively working to break apart NATO and (2) Trump sided with Putin over America on global television.

So this issue is settled.

Now, this would normally be dealt with by Congress.  They would say, “Hey!  Trump is a traitor.  Let’s get rid of him right away.”

But that’s not going to happen.  It won’t happen because the Republicans that control Congress are also working for Russia.

Here is why I say that…

First of all, they behave as if Trump favoring Russia is no big deal.

Secondly, they are actively trying to stop an investigation into Russian interference in our elections.  All I can say about that is that if this investigation is a Witch Hunt, they sure are finding a lot of witches.

Thirdly, and this is complicated, it has been shown that Russia funnelled money to the NRA.  It has also been shown that the NRA used that money to pay off Trump and a variety of Republicans.  The NRA is currently under investigation over this issue.  A couple of days ago, a female Russian operative was arrested for working with the NRA and trying to use that organization to influence Republicans in ways favorable to Russia.

In short, Russia owns the president and has significant power over the Republican Party.

In my view, the NRA is also the perfect place to find gullible Americans.  Who else would believe gun violence is not related to guns or that gun control only means bad guys have guns.  These people are soft, willing minds, that gobble up Russian created memes about Hillary running a pedophile ring out of a pizza shop. These people love hating NFL players for being unpatriotic…because a Russian meme told them to.

These same people will watch Trump sellout America and find a way to make that right in their minds.

Trump’s Putin Summit was both a disaster and a blessing.

It was a disaster because it showed that he works for Putin.  It was a blessing for the same reason.

There should be not more talk of “witch hunts” and “no collusion”.  If someone stands by Trump now, they might as well wear a sign saying, “I too have sold out the United States of America.”

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Trump – Putin Puppet Abroad

This just in:  As Trump continues his “wrecking ball” tour of Europe, I thought I would point out a few, very telling issues.

Point #1:  Trump has gone out of his way to disparage two people.  Angela Merkel and Theresa May, are the leaders of Germany and U.K. respectively.  Both of these countries are/were staunch allies of the United States and…both are women.  So, in trashing these women, he showed more of his misogynistic behavior while driving a deadly wedge into the heart of our NATO allies.  For no apparent reason.

Point #2: Trump called immigration in the E.U. “a very negative thing.”  There are a few issues with this.  First of all, Trump has no idea what he is talking about.  He can’t name 5 member of either the E.U. or NATO.  Secondly, this is a patently racist comment.  He didn’t say, “illegal immigration.”  He referred to immigration in general.  He says it is hurting European culture.  I think he is really projecting his beliefs about immigration in the United States onto Europe.  He thinks the immigration of Non-Whites, and Non-Christians, are hurting our culture here at home. If you agree with him on this, then you are a racist as well.

Point #3: While Trump never hesitates to disparage anyone, anywhere, he has singled out Putin as being exempt from all of that.  This begs the question, “Why?”   Combine this with the following: (1) Russia banks lent Trump billions when no bank in the United States would touch him, (2) Trump has a history of selling properties to Russians and hugely inflated profits; a red flag for anyone investigating money laundering and (3) Nearly everyone in Trump’s campaign was on Russia’s Christmas card mailing list.

Point #4:  When the Mueller investigation indicated several Russians last week, Trump blamed Obama rather than Putin.  To me, this is fantastically telling.  Just his morning, Trump said Russia didn’t interfere in our elections because Putin told him they didn’t.  You might recall that Trump thinks everyone that says anything he does not like is a liar.  The press is a liar.  All the women accusers are liars.  This list goes on and on.  But Putin…that is a guy Trump trusts.

Point #5:  During an interview, held two days before his meeting with Putin, Trump was asked, “Who are America’s Foes?”  His response:  “The E.U.”  Not Putin, not China, not North Korea but….The European Union.

There are several other things but none of them are new.  Things like lying and bullying and doing everything he can to alienate our allies.  Strange how this is now so common that it’s no longer front page material.

Time to save the world.

Up, up  and away…

Jim

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Trump – An American Bully Abroad

This just in:  The “Trump Goes to Europe” movie is going as predicted.

Let’s start with two well established facts: (1) Trump lies about everything and (2) Trump is a bully.

Trump’s first stop in Europe was to meet with NATO.  These are our allies.   We trade together.  We fight together.  We protect each other.  This was the strongest, most effective contributor to world peace….in the history of the world.

Trump spent two days trashing it.  He publicly chastised world leaders using made up statistics.  He went after Germany’s Merkel.  My guess is he did this for two reasons.  First of all, she is a woman in a position of power.  Secondly, she is vastly more intelligent than Trump and he sees this as a threat.

Trump came out of NATO basically saying “I set them straight and they will now pay more money into NATO.”  France’s Macron came out of the same meeting and said, “We didn’t agree to do any of those things Trump said.”

Now, who do you think is being honest?  Remember, Trump came out of his meeting with Kim-Jong-Flattop and declared the nuclear threat was over.  He then claimed that American remains from the Korean war had been sent from North Korea.  He also declared that as a show of good will, the United States would stop having military exercises with South Korea.  Of these 3 things, only one was true.  We did stop the exercises which means we gave that away and got nothing in return.

Next, Trump moves on to the UK.  He immediately went on a radio show and declared May, the British PM, was a disaster.  He also praised her opponent.  Later, when confronted with this, he denied it.  He denied it in the face of direct evidence that he was lying.

So, thus far, Trump has trashed NATO, trashed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and trashed British PM, May.  Sprinkled in all of this has been numerous praises of Putin.

Next, he plays golf and then visits Putin to get further orders.

Never forget, as America’s standing in the world declines, the Republican Party has stood by and allowed this to happen.

Vote in November.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Happiness

This just in: There was a bit on CBS this morning about happiness.  I thought I would look into a few other studies and summarize my takeaways today.

First of all, what stood out the most for me was the absolute absence of Material Wealth in any study.  I could not find anything that said the bigger your house, the happier you are.  The “I got more so my happiness is greater” type of thought is a belief in something that just isn’t true.

We tend to worship the Trumps of the world because they have wealth and thus, power.  I’m not one to get biblical but this, to me, is akin to Worshiping False Idols.

What does cause happiness?  In no particular order…

  • Spend time every day being grateful.  A lot of effort is not necessary but more seems to be better.  For example, before you go to bed a night, think of just 3 things you are grateful for.
  • Spend time socializing.  This means spending time with other people, in the flesh.  Texting is not the type of socializing the studies refer to.
  • Perform random acts of kindness.  Hold open a door.  Give a compliment.  Whatever it is, make it spontaneous.
  • Change your perspective.  You have everything you need to be happy, right now.  You are in the right place with the right people, or lack thereof.  To be happy you need to only change how you are looking at things.  I know this can sound impossible.  How can I be happy when I am in mourning from losing a family member or pet?  Maybe the “happiness perspective” is to acknowledge how strong the love was that could result in such grief.

There are several other things but to me, they are all variations of the short list above.

There is one last step…

Don’t expect to be happy by accident.  Sure, it can happen and does happen all the time.  However, if you find you are unhappy, the above steps are “action” steps that can take you from where you are to where you want to be.

Time to save the world…

Up, up and away…

J

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Economics of a Bully

This just in:  Trump’s tariffs have started a global trade war in which there are no winners.  Not unless you call the smug satisfaction Trump gets when he is bulling someone a “victory.”

Here is what tariffs do.  They are a tax on an imported good.  For example, if China once sold a cell phone in the United States for $400, then a 25% tariff would increase the cost of that phone to $500.  We put a tariff on China and Americans pay more for goods they buy from China.

To be clear…the tariff on imported goods is a tax on Americans.

If this is true, why would anyone implement tariffs?

Setting Trump aside for the moment, there are times that tariffs are practical.  For example, let’s suppose China has a huge technological and cost advantage when it comes to producing solar panels.  Let’s also assume that the United States would like to encourage the development and production of solar panels domestically.  Since China has such a huge advantage and can sell panels much cheaper than we can make them, any company in the United States that produces panels will not be able to compete.  Their panels will not be as advanced nor as cheap as those from China.

Enter the tariffs…

By putting tariffs on Chinese solar panels, their panels will now cost Americans more to buy.  In fact, the Chinese panels are now so expensive that we will buy American panels instead.  This allows a domestic industry to survive and grow.   Eventually, we will be on par with China and the tariffs, no longer needed, will go away.

So, the tariff increased the cost of solar panels but in exchange, we got a foothold in a huge global market for our domestic panels.

Let’s bring Trump back into the picture.

As president, he is allowed to unilaterally implement tariffs up to 25% if it is in the interest of national security.   For example, to protect an American industry that contributes to defense.

What Trump has done is to impose arbitrary tariffs on China, the E.U. and Canada without any clear rationale.  No one, including those in this cabinet, know what it is that he is actually trying to do.  No one can tell us what the “national security” issue is.

And what’s worse, those countries he is imposing tariffs on don’t know what he wants.  They don’t know what he is trying to negotiate for.  He says things like “China is treating us unfair” without clarification.  He puts tariffs on Canadian milk as if this will prevent a national security breach.  He puts a tariff on German cars and leaves the E.U. to scratch their collective heads in confusion.

Trump does all of this for two reasons.  The first being because he can.  The Republican Congress has indicated to Trump that they will not challenge any issue he wants to take on.

The main reason for tariffs is that Trump is a bully.  He puts tariffs on counties for the same reason the biggest kid in 3rd grade beats up on the other, smaller kids.  He is mean and insecure.  Being a bully is the best way he has come up to deal with this.

So, the world is entering a trade war because Trump basically needs a nap.

And as the result, Americans will pay more for many for the products they buy every day.

Vote in November and get the Republicans out of our house.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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Putin’s Spanking Room

This just in:  Trump is headed to Europe to meet with NATO, the UK and Putin.  I’d like to share a few thoughts and predictions about this.

But first, let’s look at Trump’s achievements while in office thus far.  Perhaps this will tell us how high or low to set the bar for this week’s expectations.

First of all, we must remember that he is an expert Deal Maker.  If you are not sure, just ask him.

Deals he has backed out of…

  1. The Trans Pacific Partnership whose purpose was to increase markets overseas for U.S products.
  2. NAFT whose purpose was to increase markets in Canada and Mexico for U.S. products.
  3. U.N. Human Rights Council whose purpose is to monitor and address Human Rights around the world.
  4. The Iran Nuclear deal whose purpose was to eliminate Iran’s ability to create a nuclear threat to the world.
  5. ON the verge of exiting the G-7 economic summit because they hurt his feelings.

Deals he has made…

  1. Under his congress, he passed a tax law that adds trillions to our national debt in exchange for…nothing other than millions of tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country.
  2. He claimed to have made a deal with North Korea and even announced that his 2-hour meeting with Kim -never missed a meal- Jong Un resulted in a complete end to the nuclear threat.  Notable is that North Korea seems to disagree with this completely.

Major accomplishments…

  1. For no apparent reason, pushed for the separation of immigrant parents and their children as they sought to flee violence in their own countries.
  2. Refused to support a “Breast Feeding is Good” resolution at a World Health Assembly; stunning the rest of the world.  His rationale….”Baby food makers are people too.”  Never, ever underestimate the power of the Baby Food Lobby.
  3. Everything else he has done has been through Executive Order, including the tariffs that are set to cripple to Global economy.  He has also dismanted of nearly every regulation put in place to protect our environment.

Now….About his overseas trip that starts today…

He meets with NATO in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday.  He has managed to alienate nearly every member in this organization. NATO is the single most successful peace organization in the history of the world.  Trump, on his very own, has created an atmosphere where they fear even meeting with him.  They know he is Putin’s boy and fear that any plans they make will be relayed to Putin when he and Trump meet a few days later.  My prediction:  Trump will continue to alienate NATO.  He will boast about how well everything went and then ignore it when other members claim he is a turd.

We have to remember that Trump lives in a world that exists only in his mind.  There is no “Better and Cheaper healthcare.”  There is no “Denuclearization of North Korea.”  There is no “Better Trade deal that is more fair.”  He’s claimed all of these and yet, all are demonstrably false.

After NATO, Trump goes to the UK where he is universally hated.  He will mostly avoid London where protesters will be filling the street.  There will be a giant balloon of Baby Trump flying over the city.  We have to remember, the U.K. is our biggest and closest ally…and they hate the president of the United States.  My prediction is that he will do whatever it takes to piss of the UK even more.  He can’t help himself.  Making others angry or fearful makes him feel strong.

This brings us to Putin…

Trump and Putin will meet in Helsinki a week from today.  Reportedly, Putin has set up a Spanking Room where he will administer whippings to a fat cheeto dressed in black leather.

Eventually, he and Trump will reach an agreement where Trump tells him everything he knows about NATO and Putin tells Trump how to behave on a wide range of issues going forward.

So, there you have it.

Trump’s experience tells me that my Expectations Bar needs to be set very low.  In fact, I think I’ll just lay it on the ground.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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