Ramblings from an unfocused mind

This just in:  Every now and then, I just need to clear all the temporary files in my mind.  The result is a random flood of unrelated things with no attempt to weave them into a story.  This is one of those days.

Let’s begin…

When I travel, I allow myself one stop at Popeye’s Chicken and one stop at Taco Bell.  The result of this well-intentioned effort on restraint is that I stop at Popeye’s once and buy enough food for everyone on the block…and one plastic fork.  Today…it was $20 at Taco Bell.  The last few bites were slow going down but still awesome.

51% of of our Senate represent 44% of our population and 26% of our country’s GDP.  Yes, they represent the poor states; those states that have made bad investments in themselves and their economy.  Instead,they rely on the Blue states to subsidize them.

When I read for fun, it’s usually “hard” Science Fiction.  There has to be a couple of spaceships and some sort of war.  Neal Asher is my author of choice.  However, I am now reading a book about two little girls that are solving a neighborhood crime.  It’s called “The Trouble With Goats and Sheep.”  I’m really enjoying it!

I’m going to San Diego to watch Navy play Notre Dame.  It should be a lot of fun as a few of my Naval Academy classmates will be there.  The game will be a horror story as Notre Dame will probably score like a basketball game.

Yesterday, I left my hotel room in the morning as MSNBC was interviewing people about Kavanaugh.  The question was, “Who is more energized by this; Republicans or Democrats?”  I came back 10 hours later are this was still the question they were discussing.

The New York Times ran a story about Trump’s history of tax evasion and tax fraud.  The result:  His fans still love him.  Go figure.  This guy belongs in jail and my hope is that he dies wearing Folsom Orange.

I’m taking a class on “influence.”  Chapter 3 was about the downside of influence.  It talked about traits like Narcissism and how those are basically used for evil.  As an example, the course used Donald Trump.  By the way, this was recorded about 10 years ago.  The course says avoid Narcissistic people because they lie all the time and promise you great things but have no substance.  Pure Trump.

A UN Climate report came out and said, “You have 11 years until the end of the world.”  Everyone in the world is terrified.  Not Trump.  He continues to think Climate Change is a Chinese hoax designed to somehow hurt American manufacturing.

Last word on Kavanaugh…The Republican Party said the following 2 statements (paraphrased here): “We believe Dr. Ford” and “Dr. Ford was a hoax.”  They wavered between these two, depending on the audience.  The Republican Party also defines “Mob” as “Angry women that raise their voices and make old white men uncomfortable.”

As I write this, MSNBC has moved from “Who is the most energized” to “Live coverage of people wading through water while carrying puppies.”  It seems to me that the major news outlets have three modes: (1) Politics because no one is dying right now, (2) Plane crashes because a bunch of people died at once and (3) Hurricanes because “Who doesn’t like watching roofs blow off?”  Honorable mention is the occasional mass shooting (or…act of terrorism if it was committed by a non-white.)

I’ve been doing some work in Canada recently and I would like to report that Canadians are as nice as we think they are.  They look at Trump and understand that we had a temporary lack of good judgement and they will wait patiently for sanity to return to the lower 48.

I guess that’s enough of a data dump for now…I still have a Burrito Supreme that’s not going to eat itself.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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My Ideal Candidate

This just in:  Election season is officially here.  There is probably no single candidate that agrees with me on everything.  However, I thought I would put down those campaign issues that get my support…in order of priority.

Get money out of politics.  This is the root cause of nearly every problem in D.C.  Politicians are spending half their time raising money and, in the end, vote in accordance with what their largest donors want.  Jon Stewart, yesterday, said that politics is no longer about governing; its about getting re-elected.  I agree.

Education.  We are not even in the top 15 when looking at global achievement in all areas of basic education.  We have a system designed in the early 1900’s that was intended to crank out people that would work within the framework of the industrial revolution.  Now we are in the digital age.  We’ve been here for some time.  We need to innovate.  We need to look at countries that are doing it right and learn what we should do.  We need to make education available and affordable to everyone.  We need a system that allows our citizens to achieve the highest level to which they aspire.  We don’t need to do this because we are benevolent.  We need to do this so we can remain on the top of the hill.

Healthcare.  If you tell me we can’t get this done, you don’t get my vote.  Obamacare was a baby step but it was better than nothing.  Universal healthcare works.  My view is that we not only provide healthcare, but we fund research.  So long as companies can maximize their profits by “treating” rather than “curing”, that is what they will do.

Income Inequality.  There is an abundance of evidence that says “The greater the inequality, the greater the social strife.”  I don’t begrudge anyone’s ability to make a ton of money.  I don’t want “their” money because of some Atlas Shrugged plot line.  We need to redistribute income because it makes us a stronger country overall.  We need high speed transportation.  We need education.  We need healthcare.  We need innovation.  We need so much.  Instead, we funnel money to they very rich in hopes that they will maybe create a new job; perhaps we can mow their lawn.

Taxation.  We need to have a progressive tax system that funds our national needs.  Cutting taxes does not create long-term growth and raising taxes will not create long-term stagnation.  Trickle-down economics is a scam created by those that would take advantage of the intellectually lazy.  The rich need to pay much, much more.  Stuff is not free.

Civil Rights.  We should treat all people equally.  I don’t care about your religion.  I don’t care about the color of your skin.  I don’t care about your social status.  I don’t care about where you came from.  I don’t care about your level of education. I don’t care about your sexual orientation.  I care about the content of your character.  That’s it.

Climate Change.  This appears to be real.  I’m not a scientist so I rely on scientists to tell me what’s going on.  They are saying, “This is real.  This is man-made and this is a problem that is getting worse.”  We can not only address this, but we can do it in ways that are extremely economically beneficial.  Fighting climate change is not a burden; it’s an opportunity.

Then there are a ton of other issues: Corruption in politics.  Immigration.  Gun Control.  Worker benefits and minimum wage. Abortion/Choice.  The truth. The military.  International relations.   These are all important.

So, if you find a candidate that fits all of these, point them out.  Those are the people that I want to follow.

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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My Progressive Rationale

This just in:  I want to spend some time on today’s blog talking about why I “lean left”.  But first…I’d like to tip my hat to Anthony Bourdain.  He tragically took his own life yesterday.  Those of us left behind get to miss him.   As for Anthony…he is truly off on the final trip to Parts Unknown.

So, why am I a Progressive?  Why do I use that term instead of “Liberal” or “Democrat”?

To me, “Progressive” describes someone that recognizes the world is in constant flux, always moving forward, not backward.  Success belongs to those that prepare for what is coming rather than hugging on to that which is past.

“Liberal” makes me turn away.  It sounds like a person that wants to give stuff away for free because it makes them feel good for some reason.

“Democrat” means “Not Republican” so I could live with that one.

I’d like to list a few items and tell you why I support them.

  1. I support DACA and a path forwards for citizenship.  I support this because these people are an integral part of our society.  They are doctors and farm laborers.  They pay their taxes and, as they stay in the United States, the look for ways to make things better for their families.  In short, they contribute more to our economy and society than they take away from it.
  2. I support Gun Control.  Keep in mind, this is not “taking away guns.”  People blame porn, lack of a God, energy drinks, mental illness and solar flares on the 35,000 gun deaths we experience every year.  I think that is all nonsense.  Why?  Because every other country that experiences all of those things, does not kill itself with guns at anything near the rate we do.  Guns guns the only difference.  (see tab above for ideas about Gun Control)
  3. I support higher taxes on the wealthy.  Yes, this is a redistribution of wealth…but so was the latest tax cut which redistributed billions from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.  This has nothing to do with envy or whatever the Atlas Shrugged people want to call it.  When we have income inequality, the overall economy of our country suffers.  Watch this TED talk about income inequality.  Our overall quality of life, economy and position of power internationally all improve when this inequality is less.
  4. I support universal health care.  There is only one reason for this – it works far better than our current system in 100% of the countries that use it….and all industrialized countries besides the United States use it.  We pay more and have poorer outcomes because…politics.
  5. I support efforts to combat climate change.  There is only one reason for this – 98% of all scientists and our military claim that climate change is real and is the greatest threat to our national security.
  6. I support any program that makes sure children don’t go hungry.  I do this because each child represents two potentials: (1) someone that drops out of school and becomes a burden to society and (2) someone that grows up, has a family and contributes to society.  I believe a child with a full stomach is nudged towards the more positive of these two potentialities.
  7. I support free education to whatever level you would like to attain.  There is only one reason for this: We need educated people if we are to compete with the rest of the world.  Short of making education free, we are only allowing the rich to attain it.  Who is to say that the children of the top 1% have more potential than the other 99%.
  8. I support higher taxes that give a positive return on investment.  We can spend $10 billion on tanks and get nothing in return.  Or, we can spend $10 billion on high-speed transportation which enables people to live outside the overprices housing markets in cities and still work in those cities.  Money on universal healthcare and education is money that gives us a greater value in return than that of the tax dollars we invested.
  9. I support getting out of the conflicts in the Middle East.   We started going there for oil.  We stayed there because we wanted to have influence and military bases.  Today, we can conduct a war anywhere without actually having a base nearby.  History books will have a hard time explaining why we are sending our kids to die in “over there” and why we are spending trillions of dollars to do so.
  10. I support legalized abortion.  Why?  Because making it illegal only drives abortions into the alleys.  It does nothing to reduce abortions.  I support Planned Parenthood because it is the single biggest contributor to stopping unwanted pregnancies, and thus abortions.
  11. I support government regulation.  Not all regulations but those that protect the population and the environment.  Why?  I want to be able to eat grapes that don’t kill me.  I want us to be in the game for the long run which means realizing that Earth is a finite resource that needs to be managed or lost.
  12. I support a Constitutional Amendment that overturns Citizens United.  Ever since that ruling, our government has become increasingly more corrupt.  It’s not so much the money grabbing that’s bad.  It’s the bad policy that comes from the money grabbing that it pulling us down.

Notice that none of these say, “I am a good person” or “God told me this”.  I’m just going with the facts.  When the data says universal healthcare works, I believe it.  When Hannity says it doesn’t…I know he is lying.

The crux of the matter is being informed.  If you think guns are not the problem, then you and I don’t differ on philosophy, we differ on degrees of information.

So there you have it.  Am I a liberal?  I don’t think so but you can call me that if it works for you.

I’m a progressive.  I want policies that make us stronger overall.  I want policies that use data to drive decisions.

And…I want to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

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