Donald Trump’s Take

Donald Trump in February 2009Image via WikipediaDonald Trump was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday. He talked about Obama, our image overseas, and our economy. He does have 5.4 billion dollars so I imagine his economic opinions are of interest, at least they are to me. He also spends a lot more time overseas than most of us, so he probably gets an earful over there. I would guess, though, that his opinions about Obama may not carry much more weight than anyone else’s, although he certainly has more influence.

Mr. Trump says that we are losing the respect of the nations in the rest of the world, but I’m not sure why. This is another thing that is about money and therefore, about slippage. In the perception of others we are not first in anything anymore. We are not first in standard of living, not first in education, not first in manufacturing. Perhaps we are not even first in innovation. Mr. Trump seemed to feel that we gave away our spot at the head of the line of nations and that we need to get it back.

Donald Trump also said that he’s a “hawk” who believes that, on this occasion, we need to get out of the wars we are in. We need to manufacture things again, and we need a 25% tariff on Chinese goods. We are funding the Chinese economic transformation and not getting any respect for doing it at all. It was quite interesting to hear his viewpoint and I want to respond to it, but I need to think about it some more, so I will let it percolate until tomorrow.

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Human Wars – Our Finest Selves

War is terrible. To be caught in the middle of a war must seem like you are stuck in hell. Sometimes, in order to prevent a war from coming to you, you have to take the war to the soil of the aggressor. It is impossible to avoid national guilt when people are dying anywhere at our hands. We often do not feel like our best selves and we shouldn’t. Once we decide we must defend our country, or our way of life, or our freedom, and we go to war we are supposed to support our country. We sometimes have trouble with this although we almost always support our soldiers.

In recent wars our motives have sometimes been complex and both selfish and altruistic. We are preventing a repeat of 9/11. We are protecting a country’s residents from ruthless leaders, we are protecting human rights, we are leading nations to democracy, we are defending our economic interests, and on and on. Instead of staying home reacting to events we decide to get out there and “mix it up.” Here at home, depending on which motive we tune in to, we find our emotions oscillating. While we always mourn, some motives seems worthy of the expenditure of our soldiers lives and health. Other motives make us question the human toll.

One of our frequent motives for war is to defend the rights of women and children. Women and children are worth defending. Horrible crimes are being committed against these groups. Their human rights are often disregarded or deliberately trampled. These are not women and children who have been previously empowered in any way. They don’t know how to organize; they don’t know how to defend themselves.

I know we are stepping on people’s religious beliefs, at times, in our struggle to provide women with basic human rights. In fact, I think this may become a nexus of conflict. What we see as a threat to freedom, others see as an intrinsic religious rule written in holy texts and practiced for centuries. I believe our regard for the human rights of women and children is part of our finest self and I believe we cannot help ourselves when it comes to defending women and children. However, war should not be our go-to strategy in this particular battle. For one thing, women and children suffer most in war. For another, these traditions run so deep in some cultures that when we attack something so deeply and firmly held, we must take our time, and use our words, and keep pushing for a gradual evolution. We need to be careful that while we are expressing our finest selves we don’t antagonize our neighbors so much that they decide to do something rash like annihilating everyone.

Cat Wars

I have a cat. She is a fluffy, tawny tiger with medium length fur. She is a semi-feral cat that I adopted when she fell ill. Ten years later she is living with me in my mother’s attic. And she is not happy. She has been an outdoor cat, but has not been outside in over a month. She’s starting to act a little “stir crazy.”

My cat is upstairs because my mom also has a cat that lives downstairs. Last night, my cat, Princess went down the stairs and encountered Mom’s cat, Willow. Now we have a stand-off. Princess is acting very nonchalant. Willow’s tail looks like one of those old raccoon tails college students wore in the 40’s or 30’s or 20’s (whatever).

Cat protocol is very strict in these matters, I believe. The older cat usually dominates. But Willow was the first cat in the household even though she is the younger cat. Who’s the boss? That’s what the cats are trying to decide, but it’s a tough call. Why can’t they share? Do cats ever share?

So, how will we get Princess to go back upstairs? If we leave them both downstairs at night how will we get any sleep? How did cats and people ever get together any way, since we live on opposite schedules?

Shell Game

While I was watching national politics and state politics someone was deciding to get creative at the local level. In Sunday’s paper we were informed that our local property taxes are going up. In fact, in my town, the county executive wants to raise taxes 113.5%.

Are you nuts Joannie Mahoney? You want to raise taxes in Salina by 113.5%? Salina is not a town full of wealthy people. We’re so poor they won’t even put a YMCA here. Since when do we charge the least affluent people the most money? Our homes are the least expensive in the area, that’s why we have the lowest taxes.

You are using the people who you represent as pawns in your grand consolidation plan. You are manipulating us because you want to cut county costs by increasing the cost to live in the towns and villages. You want to force some towns and villages to go out of business or to consolidate services. You feel that there is too much duplication of service. While it’s true that there probably are too many subdivisions in local government, to raise our taxes when the economy is in crisis and our incomes are shrinking is wrong. We do not expect our county executive to “kick us while we’re down.” Please save your grand plan for another day when we have had a chance to recover a bit. Or come up with a new plan to get to your goal.

House Shopping XII

My mortgage has been approved. Yay! I am glad, but since this is a 203K FHA loan which includes some rehab money, my work is just beginning. Now I have to find a contractor/contractors to do all the little jobs that the house inspection uncovered, and a few bigger jobs that I feel would make the house more livable, like the entire kitchen, the furnace, the floors in the kitchen, pantry and bathroom. I want to put new windows in the porch and repave the driveway and fill in the holes in the masonry basement (little holes) (perfect critter holes). Before the closing can happen I have to bet quotes for all these jobs.
So I am haunting Home Depot and Lowes, perusing the yellow pages and making a big pest of myself. I am staying up nights deciding what I will keep in my plan and what will have to be eliminated. Please not the kitchen.
I don’t know if I can blog everyday and keep up my schedule of appointments. There may be some blank days in the next two weeks. I like writing my blog, so I will try to hang in.

Sarah Palin – What is the Appeal?

Sarah Palin holding a T-shirt related to the G...Image via WikipediaWhat’s up with the fascination with Sarah Palin, plucked-from-obscurity Sarah Palin? I just don’t get it. Yes, she’s a real live mom. We don’t get much of that in politics. She has real live children with complicated 21st century lives. I’m “down” with that too. Yes, she’s pretty and photogenic and she speaks like one of us, that is, she can use an informal idiom. She’s sassy and she can shoot a gun.

However, she doesn’t (or didn’t) know any more about politics than most of us do, although she may have comprehended the backroom shenanigans better than some of us, and she is learning every day. Perhaps the reason she understands what goes on in “the locker room” is part of the reason I don’t trust her. She must have had some money and now she has a lot more. Now it makes sense for her to be a Republican. She supposedly cancelled the “Bridge to Nowhere” or the “Road to Nowhere” or some such thing, but didn’t it get built anyway?

What exactly is all the fuss about? She is just another “small government,” give-rich-people-all-the-tax-breaks, Conservative Republican. Do so many people like her just because she is confident? Do they like her politics? Does she have any politics? She does have a lot of good one-liners? Is this just more political theater? She was a ridiculous pick for Vice President. She has had her “15 minutes.” Now the Tea Party is very taken with her. I guess she’s going to have a very long “15 minutes.” Give me strength!

Maybe people like Sarah Palin exactly because she was plucked from obscurity and therefore, it could happen to more of us.

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The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Tea Party candidates are winning primaries. I don’t like the Tea Party any better than I like Republicans because they have the same financial agenda. They want to cut taxes, but I don’t think they plan to help me down here near the bottom of the heap. They have no sympathy for people at or near the poverty level. In their every-man-for-himself world they consider us worker bees ne’er do wells and failures. In their myopic view we had the same opportunities as anyone. The tax cuts they want are for middle and upper middle class people. They think their money has been paying for our “comfortable” lifestyle.

They want small government. Since they get most of their support from private, rather than public sources, we can guess that they do not plan to do anything to hurt businesses. They will most likely get rid of social programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Their entire agenda is about holding onto more of their money. They do not feel responsible to anyone but themselves.

I do not want these selfish people in Congress even if they are part of a populist movement. However, I will appreciate that they may dilute the Republican advantage in November and I’ll hope that all will be well.

While I am writing this, I am watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a real love-hate fest which has a lot of parallels in the American political scene this past couple of years. I think the movie ends in therapy, harmony, love and cooperation. If only our government could get some of this. We don’t need less government, we need less contentious government. Put your heads together! Figure it out, please!

Books – Hardcover Fiction – September

Here are the hardcover fiction book picks from the independent booksellers at www.bookweb.org.

Star Island, Carl Hiaasen (humor), life in the celebrity fast lane
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
Three Stations, Martin Cruz Smith (7th Arkady Renko novel)
The Cookbook Collector, Allegra Goodman
Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart (satire)
The Rembrandt Affair, Daniel Silva
The Postcard Killer, James Patterson
The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory
I Curse the River of Time, Per Patterson
The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise, Julia Stuart (charming)
The Cobra, Frederick Forsyth

Books – September List

Of course I am way behind in my reading but I still need a September book list, because, after all, my book list is never-ending.

Fiction

What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Long Way Home by Robin Pilcher
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Language of Secrets by Diane Dixon

Non Fiction

Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit by Andrew A Rooney
The End of Overeating by David A Kessler, MD

I Don’t Get It

I can’t believe we are planning to elect people because they did NOTHING! The House of Representatives has sent bill after bill to the Senate to help the economy and every bill gets stopped in its tracks. Every attempt by the President to hire people to fill posts related to the economy gets stopped in its tracks. How can we tell if Obama is a good President if Republicans sole purpose in Washington is to prevent him from accomplishing anything? Why would we elect people who care so little about America or the American people that they will not try to stimulate our economy? How can we pay off our national debt if we don’t grow our economy? Why do we want to “tighten our belts” if we don’t have to? If you elect people who cancel my Social Security and then won’t take care of me because it might be considered socialism, I don’t know how I’ll survive. Why would we continue tax cuts for rich people who have not done one thing to help us get through hard times?

While it might be helpful to elect Republicans to the Assembly in NYS so we can see Sheldon Silver take a step back I still don’t think, after listening to Republicans talk, that I can vote for a Republican even for what could be a good political reason. Please don’t go backwards. Keep the Democrats in the majority!