A Cow Pod Or A Chocolate Cookie?

I knew it was an anomaly when I agreed with Times columnist Charles M. Blow. [See my last blog post.] The uber-liberal returned to the Op-ed arena today to encourage Joe Biden to “boast” about his “remarkable summer.” Blow’s attempts to have us believe Biden’s cow pod administration is a chocolate chip cookie failed miserably.

He starts out by claiming “the truth is that news narratives and polls are symbiotic.” It’s a vicious cycle. I guess I can agree with this statement at least, but nothing else in the Op-ed.

It’s staggering that Biden is being portrayed as a politician caught up in the news cycle and not his own bumbling actions and missteps. Republicans had to repel the ultra-liberal press every day for misrepresentations of the truth during the previous administration, even if they were right about the former president’s character.

Now, Democrats are saying the news is unfair to their leader. Even hardcore Democrats have been saying that Biden can’t legislate and govern worth a damn. It’s been rewarding to see the media accuse Biden for what he really is, a lousy president. This doesn’t pertain to Mr. Blow, however.

Blow goes on to quote Lou Holtz, the legendary football coach who said, “You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” [As an aside, I resent Blow quoting the beloved Holtz. I’m a Notre Dame alum.] Joe Biden is so bad, he set records for low polling ratings of his leadership skills. He’s the worst of the worst.

Sure, it’s true gas prices have fallen 86 cents since the high point. What did Joe do to encourage lower prices? He begged Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela to increase production, rather than inspiring American companies to do so. Biden doesn’t get it, neither do Democrats, the world is not ready to substitute fossil fuel for climate friendly energy like electric cars and windmills. The technologies are not ready for prime time.

Blow mentions the 9.1% increase in inflation by saying that it is offset by improved employment numbers. Tell this to Americans who can’t afford to feed their families and fill their cars with the same paycheck.

OK, the gun legislation was a positive step in the right direction. But it was a weak response. There are still too many ways unbalanced individuals and criminals can acquire guns, including assault rifles. The law is a “very small step for mankind.”

Biden was embarrassed that his multi-trillion-dollar spending spree was waylaid by Sen. Joe Manchin. The president settled for a smaller package that will have practically no impact on global warming and inflation, despite claims of the opposite. [Bernie Sanders chimed in and said the new bill would not have a serious impact on inflation.]

Biden’s foreign policies are in shambles. Russia is still invading Ukraine. China is shooting missiles over Taiwan. Iran can build a nuclear bomb. Britney Grimes is still in a Russian jail.

And Biden will never truly support abortion. He’s a Catholic. He’s always danced around the issue and never accomplished anything in the area of a woman’s right to choose.

Blow says Biden needs to be more boastful. About what? Our nation is falling behind the other superpowers because Biden is timid. Blow even says Biden should be more like Trump. For what, bragging about things that haven’t actually happened.

Charles, you took one step forward and three steps backwards. Biden is an empty suit, and Republicans are going to do a number on Democrats in the upcoming elections no matter how much Biden boasts.

US and PRC Dig In (High*) Heals About Taiwan

*Refers to Speaker Nancy Pelosi

The convoluted US policies towards Taiwan are creating serious angst in diplomatic circles. The PRC even hinted that it would shoot down the plane that carried Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. Few thought that it was a credible threat, but to her credit, the Speaker defied China.

The US position on Taiwan is reflected in “six assurances to Taiwan.” The Six Assurances include:

  • The US has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan.
  • The US has not agreed to hold prior consultations with the Chinese on arms sales to Taiwan.
  • The US will not play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.
  • The US has not agreed to reverse the Taiwan Relations Act.
  • The US will not alter its policies regarding Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
  • The US will not exert pressure on Taiwan to negotiate with the Chinese.

The position of the US has offended the Chinese continuously ever since 1949, when Chiang Kai Shek’s troops decamped to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war. In 1978, the US announced it would break relations with Taiwan and formally recognize the PRC as the sole and legal government of China.

Over the years, though, American presidents have reconsidered these policies, much to the chagrin of the PRC. For instance, on several occasions, the US stated or implied it would come to the rescue of Taiwan if it were attacked by the PRC.

How does all this affect the current US/PRC relations? Frankly, the PRC resents the wishy-washy position of the United States and the latter’s interference into internal affairs of the PRC. The visit by Speaker Pelosi has riled PRC leadership greatly, and that is resulting in aggressive and undiplomatic actions by the PRC, including a show of force in the area around Taiwan that included live fire combat exercises.

Would the PRC go to war to protect its claims on Taiwan? It’s doubtful that it would initiate a shooting conflict with the US, but it might take other kinds of actions that are deemed to be provocative, such as claiming more islands in the South China Sea and militarizing islands located near the PRC. There is a growing concern that a misstep by either the US or the PRC could accidentally lead to direct conflict.

Seems to me that the current policies of the US are the major issue. Our government has been dancing around its position relating to Taiwan for many years. Direct and frank negotiations with the PRC are an obvious alternative to military confrontation.

These solutions would be complicated and likely fraught with economic sanctions by both sides, something the world economy does not need at this time. I am absolutely dedicated to affirming the rights of US, but we need to be clearer, as it was with Hong Kong. Perhaps a date to reunite the two Chinas in the distant future would be a reasonable idea to discuss. The 100-year deal between the PRC and Hong Kong ultimately worked out without serious violence.

In the meantime, the US should retain all of its rights to have a relationship with Taiwan that includes among other things arming the island. Another Russia/Ukraine situation is not a preferred course. If the PRC wants to annex Taiwan, it should do it peacefully. So long as this happens there will be no need for either the PRC or the US to show their muscles.

Charles Blow Blows His Horn In Opposition To Trump

Charles Blow, columnist at the NY Times, really would like to see Trump in jail for crimes against the nation including sedition, an attempted coup d’état. The January storming of the Capitol by a group of radical right wingers was a travesty, deserving of punishment and a stain on American history. But there was no chance that Trump would rise to the top like other famous authoritarians from the past. The threat to our democracy is being overstated to a great degree.

Nevertheless, I opposed Trump repeatedly before, during and after his tenure as president. His time in the Oval Office earned him “the worst president award,” in my opinion. And I just don’t believe that Trump has the support of enough Americans to make a credible attempt to be president again. Unfortunately, Fox News continues to prove they are no better than their liberal opposition. Too many of their talking heads think Trump deserves another chance to lead this country. I believe this is utter insanity.

Blow, and commentators of like mind, want to guillotine Trump to make sure he doesn’t become president. In a strange way, Biden is so incompetent and unprepared to be president that he gives a megalomaniac like Trump an opportunity. The bar is so low. Just because the last elections have pitted Trump against Clinton and Trump against Biden doesn’t mean that any of these people can be viable candidates.

Credible Republican candidates are frightened to face off against Trump. Why, because they are concerned, he actually has influence over many voters. I believe this is untrue. Dedicated Republicans want someone other than Trump to represent them, just like Democrats want someone other than Biden to represent them.

Back to Blow. A reasonable person should agree that Charles Blow wants Trump to be in jail so he cannot run for president. I appreciate his perspective, but he’s overstating Trump’s influence.

The January assault on the Capitol was nowhere near a successful takeover of our government. It was a protest gone out of control, just like ones perpetrated by radical liberals across the country. All violent participants should spend time in jail.

Blow is trying to convince some people that Trump represents Satan and will return to take over the Earth. For sure, Trump is evil, but to classify him as Beelzebub is a bit much. Trump will be lucky to not get indicted by the Justice Department. He has no magical powers that will help him, nor will anyone try to spring him from jail.

Blow’s op-ed is just another piece that talks about how bad a person Trump is. He learned from his mistakes and will be more evil next time if he wins. Trump can’t be held accountable if he’s president. He will use the presidency to make himself wealthier. He hates women, and so do his supporters. Trump is a sex maniac. And so on.

I admit, I want Trump out of the spotlight and not in government. If he’s in jail, he can’t run, so maybe that would be a good outcome. Trump and Biden are two hiccups in American history. Neither will win their party’s nomination.

The Three Stooges: Russia, Iran and Turkey

Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Tayyip Erdogan are conducting a summit of rogue stooges.

Putin’s Russia and the Ayatollah’s Iran are scrambling to survive economically, as the West imposes significant economic sanctions that will impede Russia and Iran from generating revenues to stay solvent. Erdogan is mostly obsessed with the Kurdish presence in and around Turkey. All these countries are intimidated by the US and supportive of Bashar al-Assad of Syria who is responsible for horrendous human rights violations.

Russia is the easiest country to denigrate in this meeting of scoundrels. Putin is trying to reconstruct the former Soviet Union, after 30 years of independence of the former SSR’s. Some of the SSRs, in particular, Ukraine, have prospered after being released by Russia when the Cold War ended. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is the first important step to bring together countries with long standing Russian culture and act  as a buffer between Europe and Russia- a pipe dream.

It’s obvious that Russia has made a number of bonehead decisions about its military advances in Ukraine. For one thing, the Russians were not trained properly to take on such a fight. The decisions by Putin and his generals seriously underestimated the resolve of the Ukraine people, and the response of the global international community.

With a great deal of assistance from the US and other sympathetic countries, Ukrainians have resisted Russian advances, even though defeat is likely. But Russia has experienced massive losses of soldiers and equipment. And most importantly, the West is doubting the military acumen and strength of Russia to do war against Europe with US support. Of course, all of this is contingent upon the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons Russia.

By soliciting the help of Iran and Turkey, it is questionable how Russia will improve its military situation or regain its status as a world leader. Iran is impoverished and mostly interested in dealing with its hated enemies, the Sunnis and Israel. Iran will be fortunate to avoid a regime change in the medium term by its citizens based upon its present course of actions.

Turkey derives safety from NATO, which is Europe’s principal military force. So, it is unlikely that Turkey will side with Russia and Iran militarily unless killing Kurds is part of the deal.

Iran has begun to make noises that a nuclear weapon is within its reach. It would not surprise many to see Israel taking more action against Iran, given the weakened state of the latter.

If it wasn’t such a sad state of affairs in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, it would be humorous that Putin can only find solace from the likes of Iran and Turkey. Both of the countries have far greater designs than assisting in the takeover of Ukraine. It’s highly unlikely that neither of the rogue nations will be helpful to Russia strategically or diplomatically.

Many analysts are impatiently awaiting some kind of massive event in Russia. Putin seems to be unbalanced and fighting for the sake of fighting, without any strategic goals. I’m surprised the Russian people are not revolting at this moment.

Nothing will come out of this three-country summit because each has a separate agenda.

Free Speech For Everyone

What’s transpired during the last half century to make Washington D.C. such a hostile place? Why can’t our leaders and legislators agree on priorities that are good for our country? Why does every conversation turn into a blood bath of dueling ideas?

For sure, both major parties have played a great part in the current paralysis of our government. But isn’t it a simple case of one party in control and the other party resenting its subordinate position? If you disagree with the government’s priorities, try to elect someone who sees life as you do. Don’t burn down cities or attack those who disagree with you about specific issues.

Let’s analyze the universal hostility by first considering the most basic right of Americans. The primary and fundamental right of all Americans is free speech. If any citizen believes there is injustice in any aspect of their life, he or she may speak out, supposedly without peril, supposedly being the operative word.

The right of free speech has been bastardized in recent years. Some radical elements have denied other Americans the right to express their opinions by protesting violently or through various types of intimidation. In the 60s, Berkeley was the epicenter of free speech. Every person had free rein to express themselves without the risk of being assailed physically. Vehement objection to new ideas was permissible so long as violence did not accompany it.

Since the 60s, a truly anti-American trend has materialized. Berkeley, and most colleges and universities have made it more difficult for conservative ideas to be discussed. At some schools, violent protest prevents us from being able to debate both sides of critical issues, whether it be political conservatives, or others with opposing viewpoints.

Regretfully, Berkeley students destroyed the campus and the surrounding town to prevent a conservative talking head from making a speech at the school. It was a dark day when the greatest protector of free speech in the country censored free thought.

And then censorship spread to even younger people in high schools and elementary schools.

If you have any doubt that liberals are drowning out universities, read the newspapers or watch the news on TV. Teachers are force feeding their views about life to students in early grades at schools. I always thought sensitive subjects should be discussed only when children mature and with parental concurrence. Parents must now protect their young children from aggressive educators that are selling their own perspectives about sex, sexual preference, political preference, drugs and even religious and moral issues.

It’s an interesting phenomenon to observe our legislators doing battle on the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Liberals are beside themselves that some of their colleagues want to be frugal with our tax money, are against free spending that drives up our national debt and inflation, are for the right of Americans to bear arms, want to ensure that our elections are fair, etc. For sure, the advocates of these perspectives frequently want too much: low taxes for the wealthy, a reduction in social programs, too many guns, etc. But why can’t we negotiate? Why can’t we meet in the middle?

Those that endorse conservative perspectives are excoriated by the press, which is, for the most part ultra-liberal. These people don’t want the other side of an issue to be considered. Journalists have all become columnists, feeling free to opine on every page of the newspaper. The generally accepted rule of journalism is that personal ideas are expressed in the opinion pages. This is a long-gone tradition.

Many Americans don’t appreciate the fact that our leaders and lawmakers are evenly split. There is a 50/50 deadlock in the Senate. One senator, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, a Democrat, has single handedly stopped Biden’s foolhardy and erroneous efforts in a number of areas. Biden can’t accomplish his agenda even though Democrats control both houses of Congress. The point is that if 51% of Americans support an issue and 49 object to it, there is no clear mandate. The minority should have some power. At a minimum both sides of a controversial issue deserve to be heard.

On the other side of the coin are the radical troublemakers that tear Americans apart. Donald Trump is a stain on our country, democracy and honor. The thugs that stormed the capital should be indicted and go to jail. Trump is poisonous to our beautiful country, and it befuddles me that any informed American would support him.

Nevertheless, Trump has an unalienable right to express himself, no matter how offensive his words are to others. Free speech only is meaningful if 100% of us are given the right to talk and protest WITHOUT VIOLENCE.

During the impending midterm elections and general election in 2024, Americans must unite and bring back our glory days. Times are tough, but together we can live in peace, negotiate in good faith and make our country a happy place with equal rights for all groups of people.

Ineffective+Untrustworthy+Too Old= No Nomination

In a story on Monday, the New York Times surveyed the latest polls dealing with Biden’s voter satisfaction, or in his case voter dissatisfaction, and its impact on the impending presidential election. The results are astounding, and certainly support the predictions of Softball Politics. Biden is not going to run for president for a second time if the Times’ assessment  is accurate.

Here is a short synopsis of the Times piece.

  • 64% of Democratic voters prefer a new standard-bearer in the 2024 election.
  • Biden received a 33% approval rating.
  • Widespread concerns about the economy and inflation have turned the national mood dark both for Biden and the trajectory of the nation.
  • Only 13% of American voters said the nation was on the right track.
  • 2/3 of independents now disapprove of the president’s performance, half of them strongly so.
  • Only 26% of Democratic voters said the party should re-nominate Biden in 2024.
  • 94% of Democrats under the age of 30 prefer a different presidential nominee. One Democrat said she wants a president “who’s not knocking on death’s door.
  • Jobs and inflation were important to 15% of voters.
  • More than 75% of voters said the economy was extremely important, and only 1 percent said the economy is excellent.

As all this pertains to the presidential election, the survey showed that Biden would defeat Trump 44 to 41% in a head to head competition. One of Biden’s favorite expressions is “don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned that I have outstanding wagers about whether Biden and/or Trump will run in 2024. My Biden bet is looking very good at this moment. Legal problems, personality problems and an inability to govern the US will prevent Trump from obtaining the Republican nomination.

America Can Do Better Than Biden and Trump

I’ve had some animated debates recently about the Republican and Democratic nominees for president in 2024. I could not think of a worse election then one that pits Trump against Biden. I’m officially going on record that voters in both major parties we’ll see the light and not select either of these two men who, arguably, are the worst presidents in America’s history.

Joe Biden, with a majority in the House and effective majority in the Senate, has not been able to govern the US effectively. Rightly so, most Americans, less than 40%, think Biden is doing a good job. Why would Democrats nominate a man that a vast majority of voters dislike intensely? Doesn’t the party have anyone ready for prime time? Will Democrats re-nominate Biden because most incumbent presidents historically are renominated regardless of their performance? How stupid is that strategy?

Here are the primary reasons why Sleepy Joe has no chance to win another election:

  • Illegal immigration continues unabated.
  • Biden botched the US departure from Afghanistan.
  • Inflation is worse than any time since the 1980s.
  • Gas prices are at historical highs.
  • COVID and its offspring are still devastating America.
  • Biden originally supported defunding of the police.
  • Biden was not able to control Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, effectively making it impossible for Democrats to pass Biden’s agenda.
  • Russia and China are bullying the US, and other countries, with little push back.
  • The US has done nothing to temper North Korea and Iran, as they build nuclear weapons.
  • Biden is running on an anti-Trump platform.
  • Biden has made no advances in the fight against global warming.
  • Biden and Democrats have not supported free speech for every American, just for liberals.
  • Biden is a free spender who has turbocharged inflation with unparalleled new entitlements.
  • Joe will be 82 and 2024. He acts like someone who is that old.
  • Etc.

Now Trump. This man is a thorn in the side of America. He has single handedly pitted Americans against each other by endorsing violent protests after the 2020 elections. He’s a conspiracy weirdo. Trump is paranoid about his beliefs and that everyone is out to get him. Trump has serious character flaws and is not capable of effectively governing the US.

For over six years, scores of people have exposed Trump’s opulent and secretive lifestyle, and his megalomania. He obliterates people who have any opposing opinions. He expects loyalty to the death.

Trump is not intelligent enough to be president. He is a troublemaker and has virtually no friends. He is an exaggerator and a liar. He has no ability to manage even a small company much less the US. The only reason he was elected in 2020 is because the American voters hated Hillary Clinton and were looking for a change.

Trump is an embarrassment to America. He tried to bully his way through his first term. What’s incredible to me is that the Fox Network still supports Trump. I sit at home and watch some very intelligent journalists and talking heads still applauding Trump contributions. He took from America and gave nothing back in return.

The impending presidential election is critical to the US. We need to find leaders who are capable. Let’s forget about Joe and Donald and pick someone great.

I will be collecting on my bets in couple of years.

Just Out Of Africa

My family and I just returned from an amazing trip to Rwanda and Kenya. It’s not my first journey to the dark continent. Over the past decade, we also trekked in Tanzania and South Africa.

The current trip consisted of two parts. On the Rwanda safari, we hiked up a mountain to observe the famous silverback gorillas. In Kenya, we rode in a truck in search of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, numerous grazing animals, baboons, hippos and magnificent birds. Also, in Kenya we visited a Masai community. More about that adventure later.

Getting to Rwanda from New York is an exhausting trip. We flew 7 hours from JFK to Brussels, Belgium, and then, 7 to 8 hours to Nairobi, Kenya. And then flew to Kigali, Rwanda.

In the morning, we rose early for breakfast and prepared to seek out mountain gorillas. Some live on plains and some in the mountains. The silverback designation relates to the silver hair that grows on the adult males.

The alpha male is a majestic creature of nature that can weigh up to 600 pounds of solid muscle. For such large animals, they are excellent climbers that put on a terrific show of agility. Their athleticism enables the gorillas to find nourishment in the lofty branches of bamboo trees. At times, we were just several feet from the gorillas and totally unprotected. The animals are accustomed to the presence of humans and totally ignored us. The alpha male, incredibly, walked right by me. I could have touched him, but I didn’t think it was such a good idea. He was interested in his female mate at the time.

The gorillas are responsible for a huge source of tourism revenues to Rwanda and local businesses. Conservation of them and the other animals is a most important priority for the Rwanda economy. Interestingly, those who come into contact with gorillas must wear face masks to protect the animals from Covid.

You must earn the right to see the mountain gorillas by scaling a hill that is covered in deep forest.

Each visitor is assigned a tour guide that leads about 8 people, along with a porter for every person. The walk up and down the hill is a grueling activity. The ground is steep, slippery, and fraught with loose vines. There are about 10 groups each day, 80 people in all. Numerous families of gorillas prowl the area totaling over 1,000.

Dian Fossey, a researcher and primatologist is universally credited to be the savior of the mountain gorilla’s race. There is a museum dedicated to her memory that has been funded in part by Ellen DeGeneres, Leo DiCaprio, and other celebrities. She was very aggressive in her efforts to protect the gorillas and was murdered in 1985 by a still unknown assailant.

After three days at our first destination, we travelled by helicopter and plane to Kenya. Generally, the roads in this part of Africa are rugged to say the least. Land Cruisers are the choice of most guides on the unpaved roads. We checked into our quarters after a bumpy ride on a dirt road. The runway was not paved either. The drive took about 1/2 of half an hour. On the way, we saw various grazing animals including wildebeest and zebra. Unlike Rwanda, the land is relatively flat with intermittent treed areas.

The next morning, we set out to observe the various species of animals in the area. It just so happens that the migration of grazing animals was just beginning. Wildebeest, then zebra, then antelope will March in order across the open plains and be attacked by hungry and determined predators. The grazing animals travel in huge herds. There is some  safety in numbers, unless an animal is injured.

We were blessed on our visit to Kenya. We approached lions, just 10 or 20 feet from them. An alpha male lion roared a few times, and it was incredibly loud. He was warning other lions to beware.

We witnessed a female leopard feeding on an antelope She was very protective of her kill. Later we met the leopard’s two adorable cubs.  We saw a cheetah stalking prey on the plains. He was a big male and was targeting animals that he could kill by himself. We were no more than 5 or 10 feet from the aforementioned cats.

The next morning, we visited a Masai compound. There were about 200 people living in the community. The women and children formed a huge ring to present their wares that included carved animals, beaded trinkets and jewelry. We bought some items, and I gave my Dartmouth baseball cap to the wife of the of the tribal chief. She loved it. Maybe someday a Masai warrior will attend an Ivy League university, if one has not already been a student. We also danced with the young women of the tribe. I rarely dance much these days, but I felt the urge to step it out with these young gals. They didn’t think I was a very good dancer though. I struggled with the African beat.

The 1.2 million Masai are moving rapidly into the 21st century. They are adopting western customs, interfacing with other Africans more frequently and even serving in Kenyan politics. They are a resourceful group that is slowly changing their society. We certainly appreciated their hospitality.

The trip, although exhausting and rugged, was sensational. Specific itineraries can be constructed to accommodate older people (like me) and young children. The plane rides unfortunately will probably exhaust everybody.