Fiercely’s Friday Musings

The phrase “drinking from the firehose” means someone is overwhelmed with new information or responsibilities. Changing jobs at age 64 I now have an intimate  understanding of that idiom! I’m still paying attention to social and political issues but don’t have much time to write about them.

Here are a few observations.

  • At age 71 Mitt Romney is running for the opportunity to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate. Ok. Me starting over at 64 doesn’t seem so odd.
  • If you have read my posts over time you know I have trouble understanding or accepting President Donald J. Trump, but lately I have really wondered why he consistently attacks our allies while supporting tyrants such as Russian Vladimir Putin and  Turkish President Recep Erdogan and North Korean bloody tyrant Kim Jong Un. I’ve also wondered why folks continue to accept his numerous excuses for refusing to release his tax returns (yes, he is hiding something).
  • How can we as a society tolerate the policy allowing the separation of children from their parents? If you’ve missed this story, Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the Bible to justify taking children of immigrants from their parents and housing them in deserted Walmarts and tent camps in Texas. I think he might want to read the entire Bible. Maybe Mark 9:42, for example, which states “And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea”. Read this story about a Brazilian grandmother and her handicapped 16 year-old grandson who asked for asylum at the American border ten months ago and have since been separated. She is being detained in Texas and he is in Connecticut. The grandson has severe epilepsy and autism. Where in the Bible is such treatment justified?
  • A Justice Department report found that James Comey had actually used a private Gmail account to conduct FBI business, the same thing for which he was investigating Hillary Clinton. Geez. And, by the way, don’t believe the White House’s spin on that DOJ report. The truth is that President Trump should appreciate Comey because the letter he sent Congress eleven days before the presidential election announcing he was reopening the Clinton email investigation probably provided the final push Trump needed to win.
  • One of President Trump’s campaign promises was to “drain the swamp”, yet his EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has been constantly embroiled in self-serving scandals. Most of the scandals involved using taxpayer money for personal use. Even conservative commentators are beginning to go after Pruitt yet he remains in office.
  • Arctic ice is melting at near record levels.
  • Uber has started investing in research to develop “flying taxis”. Um…no.
  • Some colleges have started offering video game scholarship. Too bad pinball scholarships weren’t available years ago because I was pretty good!
  • In addition to five guilty pleas, according to Fox News Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” has thus far resulted in the indictment of thirteen Russians and four former associates of President Trump (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Richard Gates, and George Papadopoulos). 
  • I’m really hopeful that President Trump has reduced the possibility of war with North Korea. Kim Jong Un’s reliability is still in doubt, however, and he is certainly no nice guy. A 2014 United Nations report concluded that atrocities in North Korea entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation”. 
  • You might want to pay attention to the growing trade wars with our major trading partners. In the end it is very likely American workers, consumers, and corporations will suffer.
  • Thanks to conservation efforts the number of Mexican Jaguars has increased by 20% in eight years. Jaguars were once on the “endangered” species list but have now been moved to “near threatened”.
  • Deforestation in Brazil was reduced by 90% after the Brazilian government began aggressively creating protected forests and parklands. Even better, “reforestation” in Brazil is catching on with one private group planning to plant 73 million trees during the next seven years.

I have had one post written for more than a year but could not publish it. I hope to be able to do so next week. Yes…that is a teaser!

Thank you for reading!

The News

I’m out of town for work followed by vacation but thought I’d share my take on some recent news stories.

  • There is no way to predict the outcome of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear treaty with Iran. Our European allies, those that joined us in the treaty, have condemned the decision. It does appear to me that the absence of a treaty combined with President Trump’s rhetoric will give us only two options if Iran openly begins developing nuclear weapons: 1) Let them get away with it (something President Trump promised he would not do) or 2) go to war with Iran. Remember that Russia is Iran’s ally.
  • The jury found Bill Cosby guilty of drugging then sexually assaulting women. More than fifty women have told similar stories about Cosby. If even one of them is true he belongs in prison for the rest of this life.
  • Need a little inspiration? Watch this video of a man who is quadriplegic playing the national anthem at a sporting event on an instrument he invented.
  • I really don’t care what Kirsten Dunst plans to name her baby.
  • Although I have doubts about North Korea’s sincerity, I do appreciate President Trump’s ability to have three Americans released who had previously been held in North Korean prisons. It is possible President Trump’s rhetoric is having an impact on NK but it is more likely that North Korea is bowing to pressure from China, NK’s largest trading partner. Also, North Korea may be offering to “dismantle” its underground nuclear development facility because it has actually already collapsed and they don’t have money to rebuild it.
  • The most interesting video on the web during the last week was Fox News host Neil Cavuto calling out President Trump for his inability to consistently tell the truth. Watching this Fox News clip made me wonder if Cavuto had been reading my blog in recent months! About a year ago Fox’s Shepard Smith also accused the Trump White House of “lie after lie after lie” regarding the Russia scandal.
  • Fifteen years ago Clara Harris, a dentist, caught her husband cheating. They argued. She ran over him with her Mercedes then backed up and ran over him again a couple more times. She was convicted of murder but was released this week after serving fifteen years. I only have about 150 one-line reactions but I think I’ll keep them to myself. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
  • This week Senator John McCain stated that he would vote against President Trump’s CIA nominee. In response one White House aid, Kelly Sadler, responded that “he’s dying anyway”. Anyone who thinks that is OK should stop reading my blog. The incivility permeating our nation’s capitol (and that of many states) is sickening. Sadler should be fired but I doubt she will be. The White House refused to apologize but did criticize its own staff for leaking the crude comment.
  • I don’t think I’d hire Rudi Giuliani to represent me in small claims court much less to help with the Russia scandal. Geez… he says some really stupid stuff!
  • Need more uplifting news? My wife and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary yesterday proving that angels are real. Only an angel could have tolerated me so long!
  • Are you a sucker for happy dog stories? Then you will love this story about a beagle that was scheduled for euthanasia. It snuggled its new owner all the way home from the shelter after it was adopted. I’m not crying, you are crying!
  • The slow moving disaster resulting from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruption is one of those events that is both devastating and fascinating. The destruction is like a bomb blast in slow motion. Lots of folks have lost their homes and other property. Mother Nature constantly reminds us who is in charge.
  • Louisiana’s Democratic Governor, John Bel Edwards, sent letters to 37,000 Medicaid recipients telling them they might be losing their nursing home care and other healthcare services because of a budget shortfall. Yet another example of misplaced priorities and lack of compassion.
  • Want another dog story? A Texas police officer responded to a call about a “vicious” Pit Bull roaming the street. As it turns out the pup was a big sweetie and the officer befriended her and she jumped into the offer’s squad car for a photo op. The happy pup was later reunited with her owner. More proof that stereotypes of all sorts are misguided.
  • I’m pretty impressed that I’ve written 750 words so far and have not mentioned Stormy Daniels once!
  • Queen Elizabeth II has given her consent to Harry and Meghan’s upcoming marriage. 1) I don’t care and 2) isn’t that just weird?

My wife and I are exploring the national parks of Southern Utah the next week so I may not write again for a while.

I wish you peace and happiness.

Thanks for reading!

The News This Week

I haven’t had time to think seriously about a single topic this week so I thought I’d offer my take on a few of the major news stories. Last week I posted an entry entitled “What a Mess”. This week wasn’t any better.

  • Daniel Pinto, J.P. Morgan’s co-president, warned that the stock market may lose 40% of its value within the next couple of years. A great deal of investor unease, according to Pinto, is caused by the tariffs announced by President Trump and the possibility of trade wars with our major trading partners. It appears that nobody pays much attention to history. In 1930 Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Act imposing tariffs on our trading partners and the consequence was a prolonged and more severe Great Depression. The law had an impact on trade for decades. I assume President Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn understood history since he resigned over the tariff threat.
  • Eleven countries signed the Asian-Pacific Partnership in Santiago, Chile this week. The partnership includes about 500 million people in those countries who will benefit from the agreement’s reduced tariffs and open trade. The United States withdrew from this agreement last year. Just remember that open trade has historically been supported by the Republican Party (it has opposed high tariffs) and President Trump’s tariffs are not supported by a good number of Republicans in Congress.
  • President Trump agreed to visit North Korea and meet with Kim Jong Un, possibly soon. Maybe sanctions and President Trump’s strong rhetoric (little rocket man, etc.) are actually paying off. It is also very likely that Kim is just playing one of his well known games to gain attention. Kim says he might be willing to give up nuclear weapons. I doubt it.
  • A former Russian spy, his daughter, and nineteen others are being treated for exposure to a nerve agent. This is being treated as attempted murder by British authorities. In many ways Russia has not changed at all in centuries. There appears to be very little difference between czars, Communists, and current leaders. Does anyone doubt the source of this attack?
  • We learned this week that the number of American opioid overdoses increased by 30% during a 14-month period ending in September last year. Almost 16% of ER visits were for opioid overdose. Larger metropolitan areas experienced a 54% increase in overdoses and two states, Wisconsin and Delaware, suffered an increase of more than 100%. We are losing the “War on Drugs”. It is time to try something new. I’ll gladly offer ideas if anyone is interested.
  • Every day I think things cannot get any weirder in the White House, but the Stormy Daniels story is about as weird as it gets. Anyone believing President Trump did not have an affair with Ms. Daniels while married to his current wife is probably drinking too much of the Kool-aid. And I think it is stretching the imagination to believe President Trump had nothing to do with the $130k paid to her by his attorney the month before the 2016 presidential election. Are the folks supporting him even though he is a self-admitted philanderer the same folks who wanted Bill Clinton impeached for infidelity? Are evangelical Christians who continue to support President Trump hypocrites? My cynical side believes President Trump’s announcements on tariffs and North Korea are meant to deflect our attention from the Stormy Daniels story
  • LeBron James has narrowed down to four the list of teams with which he might sign as a free agent. I could not care less.
  • Serena Williams is back on the tennis circuit after giving birth to her first child last year (and almost losing her life in the process). She won her first match. I do care about this.
  • Martin Shkreli will be sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge in New York today for defrauding investors. You may recall Shkreli as the drug company CEO who increased the price of a life saving AIDS drug by 5,000% making it difficult or impossible for some folks with AIDS to purchase the drug. I hope the judge takes Shkreli off the streets for the maximum number of years (15).
  • European Union trade commissioner Cecila Malstrom announced that if President Trump goes forward with the steel and aluminum tariffs the EU will increase tariffs on bourbon, denim, bicycles, Harley Davidsons, and a number of other products. Such tariffs would result in Americans paying more for each product targeted by the EU. Sorry to keep coming back to this topic, but President Trump’s proposed tariffs are almost certainly a very bad idea.
  • Former President Barack Obama is in the process of signing a deal with Netflix. This would be a major deal for Netflix and would give President Obama a major platform with which to reach millions of people (and an even fatter bank account). I still say that Jimmy Carter is the model former president (though he was a weak sitting president).

I have several topical posts in mind, one addressing “cultural narcissism”, one discussing liberalism and conservatism, and the other on national versus state political power. Riveting stuff! I’ll try to find time over the weekend to think more clearly about at least one of those topics.

I am also interested in your ideas for topics I could explore on this blog. If you have any ideas let me know. And if you like my blog please share with others.

Thanks for following my blog and thanks for your patience when life and work keep me from writing. I just need to retire and write blog posts!!