Being Courteous At Dinner

Having dinner with friends is a huge pastime for many people living in urban centers. Despite outrageous prices, recently exacerbated by a bump in the inflation rate, my wife and I dine with several people each week.

You should know that we rate our dining experiences. Of course, the quality of the food and service are on the list, but of particular importance to us is whether our dining companions have any interest in us that would inspire them to ask about our lives.

This may sound strange, but on some occasions our guests never ask us even one question about our daily life. Never do we hear, how are you kids doing? or what’s going on at your company? have you traveled recently? Some people blather away for hours about every bit of minutiae concerning their lives and family assuming that their interests are the most important in the world.

My wife and I always start a dinner by asking about the children of our company. What are they doing professionally? where do they live? do they have a significant other? and what’s going on with their job?

In about 25% of our dinners, after we ask questions, our dining companions don’t reciprocate. You should know, I really don’t care if these people know anything about my personal life, but common decency and in the interest of having a pleasant conversation, one should ask others about things and not speak only about themselves.

Another amazing observation that I admit I am guilty of is talking about health problems. When old guys get together, there is about a 75% chance that the subject of one’s prostate emerges. This part of the man’s body is probably the most talked about. It should be taboo considering half of those present don’t have a prostate gland.

And then there is politics. If you disagree with your guest’s politics, and you hate them for voting conservative or liberal, don’t bring up Donald Trump or Joe Biden while eating dinner. Back in the George W. Bush days, I lost friends because I defended Bush’s decision to attack Iraq. Some of you who are reading this essay might think I’m a moron for taking such a stand. If you are unable to have a political conversation without saying you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, avoid the subject.

The worst conversations revolve around social issues including abortion and sexual harassment. It has become obvious that many women don’t want men to ever discuss abortion and sexual harassment issues. It’s verboten. How are we ever going to solve the many problems pertaining to relations between men and women if we can’t even have a conversation about the topic.

I’m forewarning anyone who has dinner with my wife and me that we are going to rate you. Remember to ask us a few questions about our life. The penalty of not doing so is that we will be talking about you during our Uber ride back to our home. Your ears will be ringing.

The Red Wave On Election Day

What will happen if there is a red wave on Election Day 2022? I guess it depends upon whether you ask a Democrat or a Republican.

Let’s assume that Republicans take control of the Senate with a 52-48 split and a margin of 20 seats in the House. You may recall that Barack Obama had a similar situation and Congress was deadlocked and totally ineffective. Republicans filibustered every piece of legislation that was proposed by the administration. In this scenario, Biden could also veto all laws proposed by Republicans, a ploy as effective as a filibuster. Democrats would lose the veto if a Republicans wins the presidential election in 2024.

In this case, Republicans could execute the filibuster nuclear option and eliminate the filibuster in the Senate, so that all legislation and judicial appointments would be enacted with a simple majority. This action would forever change the nature of lawmaking in the US. It would effectively neuter the rights of the minority party in Congress. Most constitutional experts believe this would not benefit our country. Proponents believe that the majority should have ultimate control of law making in Washington.

To sum up the legislative situation, Republicans will be ineffective for two years with a Biden veto (and filibuster) hanging over all legislative matters. After the presidential election, Republicans will have a non-filibuster majority. Republicans would be stymied unless they vote to eliminate the filibuster, which can be done with a simple majority.

If I were Majority Leader in the Senate, I would use the two years before the next presidential election to deliver a comprehensive plan to abolish every inane law and mandate by the current Democratic regime. Even if this could not be accomplished because of vetoes and filibusters, I would prepare America for a tidal wave of new laws after a Republican is elected president in 2024. If Democrats resisted, I would eliminate the filibuster. This tactic would put Senate Democrats on the spot relating to the long-term importance of the filibuster to protect the rights of the minority party. I suspect Democrats would yield to Republicans and agree to enact most of their proposals.

But what would I legislate? My priorities would be the economy and inflation, immigration, voting rights and veracity of the election process, refunding of police nationwide, instituting a vaccine program, the elimination of woke dominated education, decreasing poverty and funding of our military.

The economy and inflation would improve with a sensible energy policy. Climate change initiatives would occur slowly over a number of years. America must be energy independent to have economic growth while we await cost-effective climate change technology and infrastructure.

Voting rights including IDs and upgrading our voting system to prevent misbehavior is critical for our democracy. We would not be jeopardizing our democracy by insuring it is secure.

Crimes are increasing across the country. Police should be given the money and authority to decrease homicides and other illegal activities. Effective oversight, not emasculation of our police is the preferred strategy.

I would mobilize the National Guard and reserve units across the country to stem the inflow of illegals into the country. The economic and social impact on our country is already beginning to deteriorate many aspects of our lives.

I would replace the current expert groups advising the president about vaccines. New policies must be initiated to obtain the buy-in of most Americans. The current group of experts get low marks.

I would ban woke influenced education and ensure that our children are presented both sides of complicated social issues. Debate and differing opinions are what separates America from all other nations.

We need to address American poverty reform before we tackle poverty around the world. Illegal immigrants should not be receiving aid before our own homeless and hungry.

The military should be bolstered to protect us from crazy, megalomaniacs like Putin and Xi. See news stories about China’s new efforts to combat the US. Unfortunately, much more money needs to be spent to convince our enemies and terrorists that we will protect our country from evil doers.

Biden’s Oil High Jinks

I don’t profess to be an expert on oil production and its impact on both the US, Russia and the Middle East. However, there seems to be something fishy going on that popped up in a New York Times article last week.

Supposedly, the Biden administration asked the Saudis to push for greater production of oil with its partners to offset the spike in the commodity’s current price. Higher oil prices benefit Russia. Higher prices for its petroleum products are a lifeline to a stable economy. A continuation of higher prices would also exacerbate inflationary pressures around the world.

The Saudis and other OPEC members refused to raise production which would have an immediate impact of lowering prices of gas at the pumps and would decrease Russian revenues, making it more difficult for Russia to continue its war with Ukraine.

Then a bombshell was dropped in the article. It indicated that Biden had asked the Saudis to delay a production increase for one month. Why? Would it be a way to reduce oil prices and inflation after the midterm elections and benefit Biden’s reelection campaign? Was Biden trying to use the Saudis to orchestrate a politically timed action relating to oil? What else could cause Biden to leave prices higher? In the meantime, oil prices would continue to drive up inflation and  hurt the economy.

I’m not implying the Saudis are not guilty of having their own agenda, which may not align with US interests. Nevertheless, they indicated they would not participate in the one-month ruse. It would involve them in American politics.

The Biden ministration should not be tinkering with oil prices for electoral reasons. It should be asking for favors to improve our economy, not to enhance Biden’s pathetic efforts to get reelected. This unsuccessful ploy is yet another example of Biden’s deceitful tactics to use a crisis to gain a political advantage.

Moreover, whatever the US and its allies do should have a direct impact on Russia fortunes in response to its deceitful actions in eastern Europe. If we can decrease Russian revenues by driving down the price of oil, we should do it. If we can do anything to stop the war in Ukraine and thwart Russia’s imperialistic goals, we should do it.

The Biden administration should be chastised for putting political goals ahead of US National Security and financial interests.

Stupid Politics

I’m astounded that America’s two major political parties are espousing positions that decrease their respective chances to take control of the government after the mid-term elections. Who is setting priorities for our political leaders?

For Republicans, their opportunity to gain a majority in both houses of Congress is being diminished by their continuing support of Donald Trump (referring to him as the leader of the party) and by dredging up the abortion issue just as voters are  heading to the polls.

Trump is a menace. Every average American should know by now that Trump is not capable of governing the US, and his very presence will either deny a victory for Republicans in the impending elections or decrease the number of seats that changeover from liberal to conservative.

It’s clear that the vast number of Republicans see Trump for what he really is- a liar, a self-promoter, a narcissist and a misogynist. He’s responsible for the bad blood among Americans across the country. Real Republicans don’t want Trump to represent them. Republican politicians are afraid to address these feelings because they are concerned about personal attacks from Trump. I believe there is widespread appreciation that Republicans feel Trump is detrimental to our country and a complete embarrassment.

The second miscalculation is promoting a debate about women’s rights to choose at this particular moment in time. The Supreme Court, even though they did not actually change the laws that enable women to seek out abortions, are being criticized for making it more difficult get an abortion. SCOTUS merely said that abortion is not addressed in the Constitution, a debatable point. And abortion laws should be the responsibility of individual states.

I support a woman’s right to choose wholeheartedly. Yet, I cannot ignore that a huge number of Americans disagree with this perspective. Both sides cannot ignore each other’s political perspectives and influence, if we are ever going to put this issue behind us. Republicans should not be pushing the Roe v. Wade conflict at this time. They should be considering reasonable compromises regarding abortion after the presidential elections.

The deck is stacked against Democrats. They have nearly every issue working against them. Crime is increasing in every urban area, and they had to walk back defunding of cops. The southern border crisis is getting worse every day and is exacerbated by fighting between governors in border states and those miles away from illegal entry points. Inflation has devalued the net worth of all Americans. The status of the US globally is at a nadir. And so on.

Biden and his followers cannot compete against Republicans on these on these issues. Nevertheless, both parties continue to practice stupid politics.

Sports Concussions

Over the years, I participated in many sports that posed a serious threat to my health. Playing contact sports is dangerous and parents should be mindful of the risks as well as the safety precautions that should be installed before any young person dons a helmet and cleats.

The latest concussion incident that has inspired a great debate involves Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Tua experienced a head injury on Sunday a weeks ago and was cleared to play a few days later in a Thursday night game. He suffered another head trauma which was decried by health officials and sports commentators. Many are calling for Tua to retire to avoid any further head injuries. It should be noted that serious head incidents sometimes take weeks or months or years to cause serious mental problems.

I got to thinking about whether some sports should be avoided (or children should be forbidden from playing them by their parents) because they pose a credible threat. Further, Tua’s experience, and hundreds of other similar injuries, should lead young athletes and their parents to consider whether the protocols after concussions are effective enough to prevent long-term ramifications.

Estimates are that 3.8 million concussions occur each year in the US from sports injuries. The CDC says that five to 10% of athletes will be exposed to concussions in any given sports season. CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is the progressive brain condition that results from repeated episodes of concussions. The most dangerous sports in this regard are boxing, American football, rugby, ice hockey, skiing and snowboarding. A number of professional football players have died from CTE years after their careers ended.

As a lifelong athlete over many decades, I feel the results of numerous injuries daily since I was a young man. When I wake up each morning, my body screams from remnants of old wounds. I participated in American football, four years in high school, rugby, four years in college and skiing, 30 years. I had minor to moderately serious head injuries while participating in in contact sports. Luckily, I have no effects, as of this moment.

Allowing children to participate in dangerous sports should be a gigantic issue for parents. Every Sunday during the summer in New York City, thousands of young children are playing sports encouraged by their parents. Almost every parent hopes and dreams that his or her child will become a superstar. The fact is that not one of these children on the playing field will ever earn a dime playing professional sports. Yet, parents encourage their children to play aggressively.

It might make sense to avoid the dangerous sports listed earlier until safer protocols are instituted. If a Miami football player was not protected by the professionals that his team hired, how can we be sure that every child will be protected playing intermural sports. One can never be sure that a child was seriously injured, but if a head trauma occurs, the child should take appropriate time to rest and recover. It’s doubtful that sandlot sports have sufficient trained physicians available to evaluate injuries that do occur.

Tua’s situation is borderline criminal. In professional sports, athletes are paid to compete. Injuries are the enemy of all owners of professional sports teams. If you’re paying an athlete millions of dollars a year, you don’t want him to him or her sitting on the bench. I’m not talking about sprained ankles or bruises, rather I refer to concussions and other serious injuries. They have a long life and concussions may affect athletes greatly in the future.