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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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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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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Trump’s Hail Marys

This just in:  We all know that Trump lies.  There are questions about his actual understanding of this.  At times, he actually doesn’t seem to know that he’s lying. There are times when he lies in the face of direct evidence to the contrary.  He even sometimes lies by having two consecutive sentences contradict each other.

In the end, we throw up our hands and say, “Perhaps he’s just insane.”

However, Trump has really ramped up the Lie Factory output in recent days.  Let’s look at a couple of his big ones.

The 10% tax cut:  Trump announced this at a rally.  He claimed that there would be a 10% tax cut passed in a week that would target the middle class.  Here is the problem with this.  No one, anywhere, knew about this.  Congress, which takes months to craft a tax cut had no idea what he was talking about.  In fact, he said, “next week” when in fact, Congress was on recess and would not even be in town next week.

He just made this up.  Everyone knew he made it up. And yet, the people at the rally applauded loudly.

There is the Caravan Lie.  I’ve already covered this biggie.  However, let’s not lose track of what this lie really is – A Dog Whistle to his racist base that wants non-whites kept out of the country.

Now he claims he has the ability to change the Constitution of the United States by Executive Order.  He wants to get rid of the 14th Amendment which says that if you are born in the United States, you are a citizen.  This is just another Dog Whistle calling to White Supremacists as Trump continues to try and keep American white.

I might go another way than Trump on this issue.  I might suggest that if your dad was wealthy enough to buy you 5 draft deferrals, you lose your citizenship.

Trump claimed “riots in California” over sanctuary cities.  Need I say it….Dog Whistle.

This entire immigration deal is about white supremacists. I’ve been saying for well over a year, “We need more immigrants, not less!!”  Our economy is stalling due to lack of labor.  We need more people.  Finally, I saw an economist on television say this very same thing.

Election Day is just 6 days away.  If you are like me, you don’t vote along party lines but rather, you vote for the best candidate.  This year is different.  All Republicans are complicit in Trump’s Path of Destruction.  They are either complicitly silent or actively supportive of him.  A vote for a Republican is a vote for Trump.

Knowing that, vote next week (or earlier if you can).

Help to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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“Let there be fear!” – Republican Platform

This just in:  I first went snorkeling in the Philippines. Having just been stung by a jellyfish, my assumption was that everything in the water wanted to kill me.  So, I put on this mask which only let me see what was straight ahead.  I ended up swivelling my head back and forth the entire time.  I was afraid of what I couldn’t see.  I was afraid of the unknown.

I’ve carried this experience with me for decades.  I use it in my professional life where I am a Change Agent.  I have found that people resist change, in large part, because they “know” the current situation while the new situation is “unknown.”  When I educate them and take away the “unknown”, I also take away the fear and resistance.

This brings me to the Republican Platform; a platform which can be summarized in the following way: “Create fear and fight any information that would take that fear away.”

A prime example is the issue of immigration.  Yes, we should not let illegal immigrants into the country.  This doesn’t mean that we need a wall.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t find ways to make it easier or faster for people to enter our country.  In fact, if we are to continue our economic growth, we need immigrants by the millions.

Republicans say, “Democrats want open borders.”

Republican say, “The caravan coming up from Mexico is filled with terrorists, gang members and diseases like leprosy.”

Republicans send 5,000 troops to fight off the caravan.

If people knew the truth, none of this would matter.  The caravan is made up of less people than it takes to fill a high school football stadium.  It’s made up of women and children.  When they get to the border, they will have the same rights that every other person has when they come to our country.  5,000 troops is about one soldier per child.

This is easy information to research.  Get online and look it up.

The problem is, too many Republicans are hearing what they want to hear and therefore look no further for answers.  They want Non-Whites out of the country and if they need to fear this caravan to justify that…then that is what they will do.

This same fear is applied elsewhere.  We drop out of trade agreements because, “They are unfair and the world is ripping us off.”  This is nonsense but…creates fear.

We keep Muslims from entering the country to appease the Conservatives (those that long for a pretend history of white and Christian America) and we use fear of terrorism to justify this.

The Far Right (A combination of Republican and Red Bull) send out pipe bombs and shoot up a synagogue.  Republicans see that this is causing fear so they immediately say, “Democrats are blowing themselves up so that you will blame Republicans.”

Trump has said that without his guidance, the United States will turn into Venezuela.  That is fear.

Trump calls the press an Enemy of the State.  This is an attempt to keep you from reading and thus believing any narrative that didn’t come from him.  He wants you to be fearful and knows that knowledge will make that more difficult.

My recommendation is twofold.  First…read a book.  If you want to understand tariffs, watch a couple of youtube videos on the issue.  If you want to understand the Fed and interest rates, take 15 minutes and you’ll understand.  If you want to find out about the world…watch a combination of sources.  If you want to know what the Republicans are doing about healthcare…it’s all online.

Secondly…vote.  I truly believe that if everyone in American understood the Republican stance on any issue, they would turn away from them.  Well…almost all.  There are white Nationalists that understand Trump completely and he is their man.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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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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The Shame

This just in: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” – Joseph de Maistre

Last night I had a dream.  I was some sort of Terminator-type guy and I was fighting off an alien invasion that was enslaving mankind.  In the end, I saved the world.  There was a brief celebration and then everyone turned against each other to see which of them would be the new leader and thus, the new “enslaver of mankind.”

At this point, I turned my back on the populace and walked away knowing I had accomplished…nothing.

I think the moral of the story is that the enemy is within.

Our government is in a shambles.  I can’t blame Trump.  I can’t blame the Republicans.  Why?  Because if we get rid of them, the “system” that gave birth to them will endure and thus…produce replacements that are just as bad.

What do I mean when I say “system”?

I think if I had to choose one issue…it would be the absence of accepted facts.

Pick any issue.  Let’s use tariffs.  I think we should know exactly why the tariffs are in.  We should know exactly how these affect our target (China) and our allies.  We should know how they affect us.  We should know how, as a tool, tariffs stack up against other options that may achieve the same goal.

We don’t clearly know any of this.

What about the tax cut that was passed?  What about immigration?  What about NATO or the Paris Accord?  What about Kavanaugh?  What about auto emissions? What about Net Neutrality?  What’s the impact of income inequality?  Can we do better with healthcare?

Suppose we knew exactly the impact and various solutions to these and many other issues.  We could then make good choices.  Perfect decisions come from perfect information.

This brings me to the title of this post: Shame.

The “Shame” is that we are completely able of finding the answers to these issues and making them public.  We are smart and capable.  We can do this.

But we don’t.

We don’t because people are “influenced” to turn the other way.  It could be “vote this way for me and I’ll vote that way for you” type of thing. It could be “I don’t’ want Trump to give me a nickname.”  It could be, my billionaire campaign contributor won’t back me if I don’t vote a certain way.”  Once influence, the fact are often hidden as they may contradict a desired action.

These types of influencers are what got a tax cut passed that is adding trillions to our debt so the extremely rich have even more money.  These types of influences gives us a circus for Supreme Court nominations where 90% of Kavanaugh’s history is kept secret even from the Judicial committee’s Democrat members and the FBI is directed to apparently “not find anything.”

What’s that you say, “We don’t know what the FBI was directed to do.”  That is true.  So I ask, “Why don’t we know exactly what the FBI was directed to do?”

We now have permission to lie.  We have permission to hate.  We have permission to ignore science.  We have permission to scam the tax system.  We have permission to ignore the plight of women and minorities.

And with this permission came an astonishing revelation:  We have been waiting all along for this to be okay. 

The most shameful thing of all is that the mirror has been turned towards us and the picture is not pretty.

That Shame may also be the hidden blessing.  I can pretend that my face is not dirty so long as you don’t make me look in the mirror.  When confronted with the fact…maybe I’ll decide it’s time to bath.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Why I think Kavanaugh is lying

This just in:  I don’t care what Kavanaugh did 35 years ago; at least not nearly as much as I care about what he is doing right now.  Right now, he is lying to Congress and that is a felony crime.

I think he is lying for a couple of reasons I’m going to lay out right now.

Reason #1:  He is acting like he is guilty.  If I’d been accused of the type of conduct he is being accused of, my first action, as an innocent person, would be to insist on a thorough investigation.  Anything short of that would leave lingering doubts about the type of person I was.

Saying there have been 6 Background Investigations is nonsense.  If a BI was so conclusive, why would there ever be a 2nd one, much less 5 more.  When conditions change, a new BI is warranted.

Saying, “We have signed notes from a couple of people” is about the same as saying, “I climbed a tree and nearly touched the moon.”

Reason #2: Kavanaugh has skin in the game; a lot of skin in the game. He will get the job of a lifetime if he is appointed so there is a lot riding on this.  Additionally, anything short of his getting the job will leave him tainted as “The man that lost the job because of a 35 year old sex offense.”  His reputation is on the line along with the job.

Reason #3: The woman has nothing to gain.  In fact, she has already lost a lot.  She’s lost her privacy.  She’s exposed herself to death threats and hate mail.  She is demonstrably non-political.

Reason #4: The Republican Party is rushing this through.  Why?  Because where there is smoke, there is fire.  The longer he is sitting on the hot seat, the more stuff about his past is likely to be exposed.  They act like it’s important to fill this seat on the SCOTUS as soon as possible.  This ignores the fact that they just allowed a seat to be left open for several months so that Trump, not then President Obama, could fill the seat.

Those are reasons I think he is lying.

Here are a couple of reasons I think he should not get the job:

  1. His opening statement yesterday made it clear that he is going to hold a grudge against the Democrats.  So much for non-partisan judges.
  2. He will end up Judging Trump which means that Trump is picking a SCOTUS justice that will get him off of the hook.
  3. He is emotionally unstable as demonstrated in yesterday’s hearing.
  4. He is lying to Congress.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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