I’m probably wrong but…

This just in:  I have an opinion about the Middle East and our military involvement there.  Having said that, I admit my understanding of a very complex situation is exceptionally limited.  Smitty, my editor, knows a lot more that me and disagrees with my opinion on this issue.

But….here is what I think anyway.

Once upon a time, we needed the Middle East because they supplied us and the rest of the world with oil.  A small hiccup there would send economies crashing around the world.

We helped to overthrow regimes to put in our puppets.  We established military bases and flexed our muscles.  The unspoken word to those in the area was “We are here and we are strong…so don’t fuck with us.”

Yes, there are other issues aside from oil.  NATO likes our bases close to them.  Israel wants a big brother to hide behind etc.

But it really was about the oil.

Now we are energy independent.  We get very little oil from the Middle East.

And yet…we are still there.

It’s as if our politicians forgot why we were there in the first place and at this point, are afraid to ask “Why?”  So we stay.  We stay and send kids from lower to middle class families over there to fight for something that no one can define.

We let our soldiers board first on airplanes but when they come home, they are not heroes.   There is no parade for them as a banner is unfolded saying, “We killed some guys in the desert who were shooting at us from the back of a 1973 Toyota pickup.”

I’m sure Smitty is cringing as he reads this

So, when Trump says, “We are leaving Syria” why am I not happy?

Let’s go back to what this blog started with: I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Obama said he would get us out of the Middle East and yet…we stayed.

Did he learn something that changed his mind?

Trump makes this grand announcement and I think “Finally!”

Then…silence.

Congress knew nothing about this plan.

The Pentagon knew nothing about this plan.

Puting loves this plan.

Erdogan (Turkey dictator) loves this plan.

ISIS loves this plan.

All of this together makes me think, “What the fuck is going on?”

I think Trump is getting his ideas/orders from places we’d rather he didn’t.

On a completely unrelated note…

Trump has just announced that he plans on lifting some Russian sanctions.

Hmmmmmm

Now for a quick gratitude list.

  1. Free online language courses
  2. Thai food
  3. 2-day delivery with Amazon Prime
  4. Christmas Music
  5. New tires
  6. Espresso with a shot of caramel
  7. Pandora online music
  8. Bundling up before walking the dogs on a cold morning

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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The Hungarian Template

This just in:  In 2003, Victor Orban took over power in Hungary.  He ran on a populist platform, much like Trump.

He basically promised people what they wanted to hear.  He lowered taxes and was an instant hit.  Then things started happening.  For example, he replaced people in the courts so that he could do whatever he wanted with regards to the Constitution.  While income taxes dropped, he started taxing just about everything else in the country.  He confiscated retirement plans. People that once had government and private retirement plans saw Orban take one of the two away…you got to choose which one you lost. He nationalized companies.  He put his cronies in charge everywhere.  

Just last week, he started a program where companies could force you to work up to 400 hours of overtime a year and then not pay you for a period ranging from 1 to 3 years.  He claims this is needed to fill a labor shortage.

There is plenty of labor…it’s just outside the barbed-wire fences keeping refugees out of the country.  He has stated that he keeps them out because he is trying to preserve the white, Christian culture of Hungary.

The E.U. has been on the verge of kicking Hungary out for several years.  I think this will happen soon.

Orban is not worried because he has partnered with Putin and Russia who will step in and save the day.

Does any of this sound familiar?  

It does to me.  A few years ago, the Koch brothers noted that the changing demographics in the United States would mean that before too long, the Republican Party would not be able to maintain it’s power.  The solution was to fill up the courts with conservative justices at every opportunity.  The Koch lapdog Mitch McConnell did just that by stealing a SCOTUS position from Obama.

These court appointments in the United States feel suspiciously like what happened in Hungary.

The Republican racism feels suspiciously like what is happening in Hungary.

The appointment of cronies to high positions in the United States seems just like Hungary.

The squashing of workers’ rights in the United States seems a lot like Hungary.

Now…I could be way wrong on this.  It could be that a justice is a justice and they are unbiased and thus it doesn’t matter which party appoints them.  It could be that the fear mongering over a border wall or muslim immigrants is not really racist but based on a set of facts kept completely secret by the Republican Party.

All of these similarities to Hungary might just be a figment of my imagination.

On a completely unrelated note…Trump is now under investigation on 17 seperate fronts for issues ranging from using his charity as a private piggy bank to laundering Russian money and tax evasion.

Just sayin.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Please…Stop Electing Stupid People

This just in:  There is a saying that I’m going to add to – “Those that can…do.  Those that can’t…teach.  Those that can’t teach…teach P.E.  and now I add, Those that can’t teach P.E….run for Congress.”

Please don’t take offense here.  I think teachers are one of the most under-appreciated groups of people in the country.  But…you get my point at the end.

Congress…our leadership…appears to be filled with people that rode the small bus to school.  Let me give you some examples…

These are positions taken by the Republican Party…

le search results are politically motivated.

These are just a few things that come to mind.  This last one came to me as I watched Republicans whine about bad results coming up when their names are googled.  One Democrat said, “If you want positive results you must do positive things.”

I am convinced that one of the following 2 statements (if not both) are correct:

The Republican Party is stupid.

The Republican Party thinks you are stupid.

Now, of course, Democrats are not immune from this.  They do stupid things as well.  However, they do seem to believe in math.  They do seem to believe in history.  They do seem to believe in economic theory.

And….the fact that they tell you what they are going to do instead of telling you what you want to hear makes me think that they have faith in your intellect.

Short gratitude list…

  • Pre-cooked, frozen meatballs
  • I love my job
  • I’m in excellent health
  • My eldest son, Ryan and his GF are expecting a boy next year
  • My pitching wedge
  • Republicans losing the House and thus exposing Trump to investigation
  • Fact checking web sites
  • Videos of baby animals
  • Kaiser healthcare
  • Taking my dogs to the park

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

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Republican Party is a P. R. Firm For Special Interests

This just in:  I know why the Republican Party does what it does.

I have long wondered “Why would the Republican Party vote this way or that when there is overwhelming evidence that it is bad for the country or in direct conflict with their stated beliefs and works against the wishes of their constituents?”

In other words…it looks like every day is Opposite Day for Republicans.

Now I think I understand why.

The entity known as the Republican Party is not a political organization.

The Republican Party is a Public Relations Firm for Special Interests.

The N.R.A. pays them money to make sure we can still buy lots of guns.  The Republican Party comes out with a campaign that says “If we pass laws against guns only the bad guys will have guns.”  The people believe  and the NRA pays its bill to the GOP.

A billionaire casino owner wants the U.S. Embassy to Israel moved to Jerusalem.  The Republican Party makes it happen and spins it as a “great idea”, completely ignoring that it condemns the Middle East to decades more of war.  The billionaire pays its bill to the GOP.

Koch Brothers want to pay less in taxes and want to have fewer regulations.  The Republican Party says, “We are passing a tax cut that will create 5% economic growth and create millions of great paying jobs.”  This spin is in direct conflict with economic thought and experience.  It has been a huge failure that will eventually lead to a recession.  The Koch brothers pocketed their new-found billions and paid the fee to the Republican Party.

In Public Relations, the goal is to get people to believe what you are telling them.  If it is true or not is unimportant.

The GOP advertises themselves as Pro-Constitution even though they routinely ignore that particular document.

The GOP advertises themselves as Pro-fiscally responsible even though they are the exact opposite.

The GOP advertises themselves as Pro-Democracy but blatantly oppose letting people vote that will vote against them.

Let’s take a look at their P.R. toolbox.

  1. First and foremost is hate and fear. “You are in danger and only we can help” or “Immigrants are the reason we have crime and not enough jobs.”
  2. Second is an understanding that people will believe anything they hear so long as it meets one single criteria….Am I hearing what I want to be true?
  3. A bullhorn also known as Fox New.
  4. A Useful Idiot also known as Donald Trump.

Like Trump, the GOP has no real values.  They will tell you what you want to hear and then act in a way that is laser focused on those that pay their fee.

This idea, that the Republican Party is just a P. R. firm, came to me about a week ago.  During the last few days, I have been watching the GOP to see if they fit this model.  Turns out, they fit it to a tee.  I cannot come up with any action that they have taken that could not be reduced to “Follow the money.”

Now for a gratitude list…

  • The Army-Navy game
  • Baby Panda videos
  • The pending finale of Trump Season 2
  • Shopping online
  • The end of an ice cream headache
  • Cheesecake for breakfast
  • Sleeping in late
  • Walking the dogs on a beach
  • Bacon and anything else
  • Sleeping through a long flight
  • Cooked ribs from Costco

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

 

 

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The Turkey is Done

This just in:  For Thanksgiving, I always buy a turkey that has one of those little pop-out indicators; the thing that pops out when the internal temperature indicates that the turkey is done.

I think that if you look closely at Trump these days, you might see one of these sticking out of his ass.

Trump…the turkey…is done.

Here is why.

I don’t want to go into the myriad of news articles that detail every little bit of information that indicates that Trump colluded AND conspired with the Russians to win his election.

But there are a couple of big bites to look at.

Trump tweeted his appreciation for one of his swamp monsters that took the 5th AND he tweeted a request for a harsh sentence for a swamp monster that flipped.  This is witness tampering and it’s being done to obstruct the investigation.

Mueller recommended no jail time for General Flynn; Trump’s one-time National Security Advisor. Flynn held this role for 24 days (2.4 Scaramuccis).  He did this because Flynn gave significant information about the Russia investigation.  If there was a quid-pro-quo, not only would Flynn know about it but he would be in the middle of negotiating it.

Trump’s fixer, Cohen, flipped so hard Circ-de-Sole is thinking of naming a trapeze act after him.  This is a guy that knows where the bodies of Trump’s past are buried.  Since a lot of the investigation is looking into Russian ties to Trump, Cohen will be able to lead them to every Russian mob deal made over the last decade.

And finally, there is the Republican tell.

The Republicans, in a rare display of anti-Trump, have come out and said that the prince of Saudi Arabia was directly responsible for killing that journalist a couple of months ago.

This is a virtual first.  Yes, there have been instances and individuals that have stood against Trump over his tenure but basically, they have supported him.  He has been their (and Russia’s) Useful Idiot.

His time is coming to an end so the GOP has made a calculated decision to begin distancing themselves from Trump.  This will work.  It will work because as soon as Fox news joins the “abandon ship” movement, they will begin reprogramming their viewers to believe that Republicans always stood against Trump.

As I write this, I know it’s true.  More interesting is that the book 1984 got so much right.  If you’ve never read that book, read it now.

There is some light at the end of this long, tired tunnel of failure.  I have heard whispers of a Republican movement called the New Republicans.  This appears to be a group dedicated to restoring the Republican Party of 20 or 30 years ago.  Let’s hope so.

A quick gratitude list…

  1. Airplanes with A/C outlets
  2. My lab that keeps gophers out of the yard
  3. Early boarding on a crowded plane
  4. Allowing myself to be wrong
  5. Off road jeeping
  6. Catch and release fly fishing
  7. My San Diego golf brothers
  8. Daily texts shared with Smitty and Hebes
  9. The Army-Navy game this weekend

Go Navy!

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Ebb Tide

This just in:  Thanks to everyone that reached out to me yesterday, and continue to do so today.

The grief is receding.  I can feel it less although it is still there.  I think the real difference is that I now have more of a choice.  It’s as if I have found a volume knob where I can dial it back or turn it us as I wish.  What surprises me is that I still turn it all the way up from time to time.

My mom has joined my daughter.  They are quite a pair.  So, they are both in good hands…each other’s.  Thus…I move on to other things.

Today, I want to write about how I quite a huge tobacco habit.

For 13 years, I used a can a day of chewing tobacco.  This is the stuff you put into your lip and then spend the next half an hour spitting it back out.  I know…very cool…right?

For about 10 years, every time I went to the dentist, I was told, “You have a precancerous lip and need to stop right away.”

That wasn’t enough.

I tried smoking a pipe.  Then I tried Nicorette gum.  Nothing seemed to work.

I loved the tobacco but it was controlling too much of my life.  I would be holding important meetings when the urge would strike.  I’d say, “Let’s take a break” and then I’d run off somewhere and take a “dip”.  This is just a small sample of the type of interference tobacco caused in my life.

Here is how I quit.

I was working with coal miners in Australia back in 1991.  I noticed that they would chain smoke right up to the point where they would be taken under ground.  They would be underground for several hours.  You can’t smoke down there because the air is usually flammable.  You can’t even take down things that make sparks.

I asked several of them, “Is it hard to not smoke for several hours while you work down here?”

Surprisingly, the answer was always, “No.  We never even think about it.  It is absolutely not going to happen down here so we don’t feel the compulsion.”

To me this was “acceptance.”  Much like I don’t fret about not being able to fly by flapping my arms.  I know it won’t happen so I accept it fully, and move on.

So…I took my last can of Copenhagen (chewing tobacco) and dumped it down the toilet.  Back in 1991, there was no way to replace this loss in the Australian outback.

I had just completely cut myself off from the ability to chew tobacco.

I went through about 7 days of physical withdrawal but that had never been the real issue.  Of the 1,000 times I had quit before, it was always the mental withdrawal that brought me back to tobacco.

Having cut myself off completely with no option to replenish for several weeks…the mental withdrawal was virtually non-existent.

By the time I got back to the States…I was tobacco free and have never once gone back.

After 27 years, I can still feel the craving come over me if I want to feel it.  However, I read once that tobacco cravings only really last for about 10 seconds.  If you can distract yourself for 10 seconds, the craving will go away.  It may come back but again…for only 10 seconds.

This “10-second” thing is big.  There was a time that when I got a craving, my assumption was that it would last forever or until I could get some tobacco.  That attitude made “surrendering to the addition” justifiable.

That’s it.  If I was a tobacco person right now and wanted to quit….I would have my friends load me up with camping gear and then drop me off somewhere for a week.  Somewhere that was isolated enough that I couldn’t get tobacco anywhere.  That would force the “acceptance” and thus eliminate that pesky “mental withdrawal.”

Now….as part of my ongoing grief therapy….

A short gratitude list…

I am grateful for…

  1. Netflix
  2. Skype
  3. My mom and daughter’s relationship
  4. The healthcare in MA that is helping my son with his addiction
  5. Websites like Reddit.com and Thegreatcourses.com
  6. The perfectly crisp and sweet apple
  7. Packaged salads at Safeway
  8. Any degree of self-awareness
  9. A cold room and warm bed
  10. The people in my life
  11. Cat videos

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Grief Management

This just in:  3 days ago, my daughter lost her twin boys who were born prematurely at 6 months of age.

She is physically fine and both her and her husband are surrounded by family and friends.

The grief is in abundance; like a little spirit floating around and tapping everyone within its sphere of influence and saying, “Now you.  Now you.  Now you.”  None of us were left unscathed.

I’m writing this post as a way of dealing with my small portion of the grief.

Writing is something I do often when I’m trying to deal with something.  It could be a positive issue or a negative one.  I could be searching for an answer or trying to share one.  For me, writing is a magic pill that helps me cope.

It’s helping me right now.

Aside from writing, I reached out to my closest friends and let them know what was going on.  To a man, they were all supportive; letting me know that they shared my pain and would help in any way they could.  This helped a lot.

Another way of dealing with grief is to write a Gratitude List.  It has been my experience that I cannot be “in gratitude” and in some other state of mind simultaneously.

I know this and yet, it has taken me 3 days to get to this point.  I think I wanted to hold onto the grief.  It reminds me of perspective; what’s really important.  I embrace the pride I have in my little girl and how strong she is to go through such an experience.  I touch my friends and let them know I need them and they reach back with “I’m here for you.”

Good stuff….but now it’s time for The List.

I’m grateful for…

  1. Dill pickle chunks in beef stroganoff
  2. Coffee in the morning
  3. The smell of morning after a rainy night
  4. Family and friends
  5. Spell check
  6. Watching my dogs play together
  7. The cookie my wife leaves out for me on the mornings I get up early to catch a plane
  8. Nacho sauce mixed in with cottage cheese
  9. The science that lets us put toys on Mars
  10. The anticipation of Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden
  11. A well hit 6 iron
  12. Breathe Rite strips that let me sleep better at night
  13. Quails lining up for their morning feeding
  14. Understanding life is about the journey
  15. The outlet of writing
  16. A fur lined hat on a snowy day
  17. Freedom from fear
  18. Health
  19. Passing through Canadian Immigration in under 5 minutes
  20. My perfect wife
  21. My old Jeep Wrangler starting on the first try
  22. Eating stew at an outdoor Christmas festival in Budapest
  23. Drinking hot chocolate while people watching on Market Street in San Francisco
  24. A fog filled neighborhood street on a weekend morning
  25. Geico commercials
  26. A good book
  27. The menu at The Cheesecake Factory
  28. Not drinking alcohol for 28 years or using tobacco for 27 years
  29. The Serenity Prayer
  30. My kids, Ryan, Cory, Matt and Bence
  31. Cute animal videos
  32. That my first meeting of the day isn’t until 10:30 am.

With that, I’ll leave my list behind for now.  I need to get some breakfast and go out into the world.

I feel better now.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

 

 

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Trump – Season 2

This just in:  The midterm elections were just 3 days ago.  Let’s take a look at Episode 1 of Trump Season 2.

Within hours of the close of elections, Trump fired his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.  He made it clear that he fired Sessions because Sessions recused himself from the Mueller investigation.  You may recall Trump was stunned by this.  He was certain that he has a Trump Loyalist in Sessions that would protect him from Mueller.

Now, the Constitution says the President can’t install a Head of Department on his own.  This is one the the checks and balances of the Constitution and is designed to prevent the President from appointing a lacky.

Trump appointed a lacky.

Without authority, Trump put in an AG that has publicly, on several occasions, denounced the Mueller investigation.  This guy wasn’t one of the top guys in the Justice Department.  He was just a lower level guy that Trump specifically chose because he wants the protection.

So…on day 1 after the mid-terms….Trump violated the Constitution to protect himself from prosecution.

Meanwhile…Other Trump supporters (AKA Republicans) down in Florida are calling it conspiracy that people in charge of voting in Florida are actually insisting that all of the votes are counted.  Apparently, to keep it from being a scandal, vote counting should have stopped at any point where the Republican candidate had the lead.

Most haven’t noticed that Trump also failed to install the latest round of Russian punishments.  I don’t have a lot of detail on this one.  But…Trump is meeting with Putin soon and I expect him to walk out of that meeting with a gold star stuck to his forehead for being such a good boy.

Then…there was the press conference.

Here are the highlights:

  1. Trump claimed losing control of the House to be a great outcome from a “Deal Making” point of view.
  2. Trump called out Republicans that lost because they “Refused his embrace.”  He failed to list those Republicans that lost after being “embraced.”
  3. Trump got into an argument with CNN’s Acosta and then had his press credentials revoked.  As justification, he used a doctored video to imply that Acosta was physically aggressive with a female aide.

It’s been less than 3 full days since the election…

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Trump-Publicans and Death by Gun

This just in:  In the middle of last night, shots were fired at a bar in California.  A deputy sheriff ran towards the danger and was killed.  He was a hero.  It’s important that we realize that he, and men like him, run towards danger every day so that we can stay safe.

His name was Ron Helus.

We can pause appropriately and then send “thoughts and prayers” or, we can do something to stop this madness.

Last year, there was a mass shooting in Texas.  Senator Ted Cruz got some face time on television and said, “We will do everything humanly possible to make sure this never happens again.”

Then he forgot all about it.

Let’s get to the root cause…not the guns but rather….the enablers.

We don’t combat gun deaths because Trump-Publicans refuse to allow evan an investigation into how we might go about this.

Let me say that again.

Trump-Publicans (There are no longer any Republicans) refuse to fund research into ways to combat gun violence.

Every time there is a “Death by Gun” in the United States, the people that helped pull that trigger are Trump-Publicans and those that voted for them.

Trump-publicans will race to mourn the death of the brave officer and ignore that the fact that they put the gun in the killer’s hand.

This is not new behavior.

Trump-Publicans claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility and yet they have overspent to the tune of $1 trillion dollars a year.

Trump-Publicans claim to be the party of the Constitution and yet they call the Free Press the enemy of the people.

Trump-Publicans claim to be the party of the Patriotism and yet flock to racist dog whistles, forgetting the lines “All men are created equal” from the Declaration of Independence.

Trump-Publicans think its appropriate for the President to change the Constitution by himself (see 14th amendment).

His name was Ron Helus and he died because half of the people in our country enable the hypocrisy of Trump and the Republican Party.

I’m not mad at Congress and Trump.

I’m disappointed in us; in who we are and in what we allow to happen.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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A Nation Exposed

This just in:  The elections are history and the verdict is in…about half the country thinks Trump is a great president.

To me, this is a huge disappointment.  I don’t care if everyone is a Republican or if everyone is from Mars.  I do care that half of our country listens to Trump and Fox News and reaches the conclusion that he represents what they believe.

Women that are raped should be taunted?  Hungry, poor and frightened mothers and children are an invasion?  Fear and hate equate to strength and public policy?  Lying is okay but the free press is the enemy of the state?

These are not “Fake News” perspectives.  These are easily verifiable states of being under Trump.

I saw a Trump supporter being interviewed on television 2 days ago.  Here is how it went:

Reporter:  But you know Trump lies about nearly everything.

Trump Supporter:  I know that.

Reporter: Then why do you support him?

Trump Supporter: Because I trust him.

I shit you not.  That is what she said.

Maybe the Koch brothers are right.  Maybe we are incapable of being trusted to govern ourselves.

Then again…maybe Trump is the greatest thing ever and I am the one that is being misled by Fake News.

Here is what I don’t want from the Democrats:  I don’t want them spending the next 2 years campaigning against Trump.  I don’t want them doing a Mitch McConnell stonewall against all things Trump.

Here is what I do want:

Protect the Mueller investigation.

Pass legislation about anti-corruption.  Or at least, get it out of the House and let the Republicans publicly turn their nose up at it.

Pass legislation about Gun Control, about Campaign Finance Reform, about Immigration Reform, about Healthcare, about tax reform.

Pass legislation to protect LGBT rights, to protect minorities, to protect religious freedom, to keep religion out of politics.

Get this legislation out of the House and let the Republican Senate say “no”.

In other words…Democrats…don’t be vindictive.  Be Progressive.

That is the path to saving the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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