Showing posts with label Economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economy. Show all posts

August 17, 2019

Copy Any Key

Thought this was pretty cool in Safeway supermarket.

A automated key copy machine. 

You insert your key. 

And out pops a duplicate for you. 

Home, car, business, whatever.

What is happening to that guy who used to work the key copy machine at the local locksmith?

Who says automation and robotics isn't taking and going to take away jobs. 

I still remember that key machine--where the locksmith would put the key on one side and a blank on the other, and the machine would copy the surface grooves of one unto the other. 

Now even that is gone. 

I guess we're lucky still to have keys (for now).  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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March 1, 2019

North Korea - No Deal!

This is sort of what I feel happened with North Korea and the U.S. at the Summit in Vietnam this week. 

We went into this thinking that the enticement of moving from war to prosperity, like with Vietnam, would set the stage for North Korea to see that truly, peace is the answer! 

But when there is no real trust between the people negotiating, then you get a lot of gesturing, but no real determination to make a commitment--like getting rid of those crazy nukes!

For now from North Korea's perspective, "one in the nukes is worth two in the prosperity"...and they aren't going to disarm so easily and give away what they consider their ace in the hole.  

High hopes, lots of drama, confusion and blame, and ultimately a big let down.

If North Korea would give up their nukes, and Iran would give up their pursuit of nukes...WOW, WOW, WOW, oh what a world that would be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 21, 2019

-25,000 Jobs NYC

While some politicians are hard at work to create jobs, revive our manufacturing, and expand our economy...

...Others like NY Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are busy destroying jobs from her city. 

After a grueling competition for the Amazon HQ2 with 200 cities offering incentives to land one of two 2nd Headquarters for Amazon, the winners were Arlington, VA and Long Island City, NY.

These lucky cities were to divide 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in investment by technology and e-Commerce behemoth, Amazon. 

Instead of thanking G-d for their good fortune and celebrating their win under the political savvy of New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo and NYC's Mayor, Bill de Blasio, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez railed against the "corporate welfare" and basically killed the deal. 

What should be critically noted is that incentives for Amazon were based on meeting their performance benchmarks for NYC and Arlington and were not corporate charity or handouts. 

What Socialist, Ocasio-Cortez failed to understand is that Capitalism is successful precisely because of competition and incentives for performance, and that capital is ideally allocated to where it can get its highest return. 

In short, New York and Virginia weren't giving away the farm, they were competing for great jobs and investment in their cities--and that's what 200 cities recognized from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. 

Aside from AOC's blatant bigotry and Anti-Semitism so far, she has goofed with a Green Deal that promised income security (socialist handouts) to those "unwilling to work" and sought to get rid of everything from "farting cows" to Airplanes, and now she's lost 25,000 jobs in NY. 

Voters in NY and Democrats in Congress should be paying attention to their new Socialist champion and one of its extremists in chief. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 27, 2019

Impotency of our Democracy


The U.S. democracy is severely broken. 

We are supposed to be "one out of many," but instead we are many out of one.

There is a tearing at our nation's fabric. 

Resistance.  Obstruction.  Polarization.  Gridlock.  Shutdown.  Identity Politics.  Hating on each other.  Can't get anything done. 

Legislatively we're at an impasse.

It's not just the border wall...

- No full year (let alone multi-year) budgets for all Federal agencies.

- No Healthcare Fix

- No Immigration Reform

- No Education (STEM) Improvement

- No USA Infrastructure Bill 

- We are losing our edge to a resurgent Russia and a China taking world stage militarily and economically. 

Executive Branch has its hands tied. 

Special Counsels.  Congressional Inquiries.  Judicial injunctions.  Media Lynchings.

Alone.  Thwarted.  Unable to lead or act. 

Presidential hand tied by mommy Pelosi and Daddy Schumer.

State of the Union cancelled. 

Presidency is compromised in the eyes of every national competitor and demagogue in the world. 

Without a strong leadership reestablished and permitted to act, we are running a very strong risk of losing our superpower status and becoming just another has-been nation.

Don't think it can't happen.  

The three branches of the government should be working together and helping each other to strengthen our nation's survival, prosperity, and success.

If we don't stop the madness, then we will implode and it won't be a pretty or a happy day for anyone--Democrats or Republicans. 

Last chance for E. Pluribus Unum.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 26, 2018

Tired Of All The Whining About China

I don't know about you, but I am so tired about all the whining about China. 

- They are stealing our intellectual property. 

- They are hacking into our systems. 

- They are unfairly forcing us to transfer technology to them.

- They aren't opening up their market to us. 

OMG stop the complaining already!

If you don't like what they are doing, then do something about it. 

Tariffs are a start, but just a small one. 

Seriously, if you can't incentivize them to stop the harassment and unfair trade practices by adding them to the World Trade Organization, investing in them, and partnering with them, then you need to actually compete with China. 

- They steal our sh*t--you help yourself to a generous serving of theirs.  

- They break into our systems--you find your way into their systems.

- They try to unfairly take away our markets and jobs--you take away theirs big time.  

Everyone knows that to deal with bully, you must fight back!

The more we are scared into inaction, the worse it gets.

This doesn't mean that we should get into a military exchange with China, but we do need to get into a confrontation over what economic and global partnership should mean and look like. 

China is an old and truly great nation and their people should be highly respected.

However, the USA should also be treated right, and if that means it's time for a heart to heart and some evening up of the playing field then that is what has to happen. 

We have to restore respect to America, not by becoming bullies ourselves, but by standing up to them when we are being taken advantage of.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 30, 2018

Don't Take Away The Breadcrumbs

So today it was announced that they want to cancel the meager cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase that federal workers were slated to get for 2019. 

A mere 2.1% increase in federal pay (compared with a more than 4% projected increase in private sector pay for 2018) is basically just enough to cover inflation for 2018 forecast at 1.9%.

In effect, without the cost of living adjustment, about 2 million federal employees end up with a net decrease of 2% in their standard of living because of inflation and no pay increase to offset. 

This is on top of the fiscal year 2011 and 2012 federal pay freeze that President Obama prior enacted. 

Why are we picking on the federal workforce when:

1) The U.S. economy is booming at an annual 4.1% increase
2) Of the $10 trillion tax cuts, 20% is being showered on the wealthiest 1%.

Le's just call a spade a spade--the pay freeze (i.e. cut after inflation) is really being driven to downsize government by driving employees out

Many of these are good people, hardworking people, and those that not only serve their nation but also sacrifice for it. 

With midterms around the corner and another Presidental election coming in a couple of years, why would you want to alienate 2 million workers instead of getting respect and even greater dedication?

As was written on this simple pair of blue jeans:
"Don't beat your croutons, you'll get breadcrumbs."  
In this case, don't beat up your federal workforce by taking their meager breadcrumbs, to begin with. 

Instead, let's show our appreciation for federal employees service to their country. ;-)

(Full disclosure: I am a federal employee and am proud to serve.)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 6, 2018

A Three-Party System

Yeah, these signs say a lot about our two-party system of government. 
"Republican: Because everyone can't be on welfare."

"Democrat: Because everyone can't be greedy."

Sort of the age old story of competing interests. 

Certainly also a good dose of Fear vs. Greed. 

And where the rich get richer and the poor get welfare.

It's good to have the 2 extremes of the political thinking spectrum, because it shows us perhaps where the middle is. 

Neither extreme is good, but rather it's a balancing act. 

We can't have more than 50% of the wealth owned by the top 1% of the people. 

And we can't have everyone on entitlements where no one is working, innovating, and producing. 

Yes of course, some people will have more than others and some people will need help. 

There needs to be motivation to "get ahead" and there must be a social safety net for when bad things happen. 

This is life.

But the to extent that we can have the most people in respectable jobs earning a reasonable (true living) wage and that there is equitable prosperity to go around for everyone--this is ideal.

Really 2-parties is not enough, because extremes tend to get more extreme--this is the momentum of polarization and politicization until the extremes tear us apart. 

Instead we need a strong centrist party (or parties)--that can not only play to, but also execute the middle of the road approach. 

It's not all or nothing, but rather compromise to a logical and reasonable solution on every issue. 

No, we don't want to get rid of ICE, and we don't want open borders. 

No we don't want entitlements that bankrupt the nation, and we don't want people down on their luck going needy. 

No, we don't want women who have been raped or incested or otherwise can't raise their children being forced to have them, and we don't want babies being murdered in the late stages of pregnancy. 

No we don't want to blow up the planet, and we don't want our enemies besting us. 

We don't want pollution in our air, water, and streets, and we don't want to strangle the economy with endless and mindless regulation. 

And on and on. 

It's high time to move to the center where common sense reigns.

It overdue to have a legitimate 3+ party system that talks real solutions to the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 21, 2018

1-2-3-4 Open Up The Government's Doors

1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

     5-6-7-8 Let our nation operate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

     5-6-7-8 Fix our broken directorate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's Doors

    5-6-7-8 Better for us to negotiate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Get things done for Goodness sake


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 We have no more time to cogitate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Get the employees back to progress the state


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Blaming each other only exasperate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors


    5-6-7-8 Democracy means we must work it out


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Polarized politics destroys our clout


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors
   
    5-6-7-8 The people are sick and tired of this useless way


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Terms limits are needed to sway


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Dysfunctional government can't continue unabate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

   5-6-7-8 We're sick and tired of ignoring realpolitik


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

   5-6-7-8 Grow up and show some unifying leadership


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Finally put people's needs first


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Stop playing with our country's fate


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 National security and our economy depend on it


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 It's time to get things done and not wait


1-2-3-4 Open up the government's doors

    5-6-7-8 Serve the people and cut out the hate

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 30, 2017

@Sawgrass Mills Mall










Thought these alligators were pretty cute at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Florida. 

Sawgrass with over 300 stores and outlets is the 10th largest mall in America. 

And much of it is very upscale--apparently, the economy is very good for some people.

By the time, we got out of there, my head was spinning with sampling the stores and merchandise.

It was a delightful retreat to pass some nice outdoor eateries by the Colonnade with these creative and colorful alligators. 

Remember most of this place was built on Everglades swamp, so there are plenty of real alligators to go around. 

My favorites from these:

#4 - Forever Glades

#7 - The colorful blue, pink, and orange gator.

#9 - Relax and Rejoice

What are yours?

Not sure, why I took #1--the watermelon alligator--in the other direction, but it adds effect and I hope you enjoyed these. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2017

Begone With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight saving time is one of those ideas that should be relegated to the dustbin of history. 

It serves no functional purpose and is actually a negative for society overall. 

Originally devised to have longer daylight in the Summer months by moving the clock forward an hour, it was also thought to save electricity by having more daylight.

However, research on the energy savings have had at best mixed results and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening in Summer with sunset extending to after 9 pm is necessary why???

Let's face it...it is stupid to move the clocks twice a year "springing forward" in the Spring and "falling back" in the Fall. 

Aside from the nonsense of actually having to move the clocks, it is disruptive and unhealthy to our sleep and other bodily patterns--was anyone else up too early for work this morning and hanging around until it was actually time to go in?

And it's not only people's bodily cycle that gets messed up, but animals too. One of my colleagues complained this morning about their dog needing to go out for their walk early this morning--apparently, the dog didn't get the message about daylight savings time. 

Time is not something to mess with--it should be stable like the other natural cycles of good 'ol Mother Nature--that we depend on as the "Laws of Nature!"

We don't change the number of days in December from 31 to 32 (taking it from perhaps October, which we can easily cut back on to 30 or 29 days) to extend the joyous holiday and  the shopping season which is good for economy.

We also don't mess with the number of days of the week--perhaps, for example, we should shorten the week from 7 to 6 days, so that we can have a more frequent rest cycle and rejuvenate our bodies and minds more frequently. Who wouldn't vote to get rid of Mondays and just start the week with Tuesday instead. 

Change is a good thing when it actually has a net benefit to society and it is more than negligible, but continuing to move around the dials on the clock, just because someone woke up one day with another cockeyed idea is not something to keep repeating.

It's time to recognize the bad idea for daylight savings time for what it is and restore stable time like a tick-tock that we can all set our watches consistently to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2017

Pennies From Heaven

So I ran into this lady in downtown Washington, D.C.

She posed for the picture and made sure to line up the top and the bottom posters to get it just right

It says:
"Not One Penny In Tax Cuts For The Rich"

Makes intuitive sense doesn't it: the rich already are blessed with...riches!

Any more pennies in their war chest is sort of a drop in the billionaire bucket. 

With tax reform is on the table now...we need tax relief for the middle class and to grow the economy. 

The rich really do not need to get any richer.

Especially with a national debt over $20 trillion already--and not including future entitlement obligations that exceed projected revenue for social security and medicare, which bring the debt in excess of $70 trillion!). 

The gamble with this whole tax reform plan is that the $1.5 trillion or so in proposed tax cuts over 10 years translates into a much bigger economic expansion that makes up for that revenue loss to the government and more. 

If not, well then Uncle Sam bet wrong and our annual deficit gets bigger and bigger (already $666 billion in FY 2017).

Tax cuts for the rich today and estate tax cuts to pass wealth between generations--when they impact the top 1% are ridiculously targeted to those who really don't need it, and many of the decent ones, like Warren Buffet, don't even want it

Let's have a heart and help the people that really need the help--let's narrow the growing divide between the haves and the have nots, and move to eliminate the class system that elevates one child of G-d over another. 

- While some live in McMansions, others are homeless.

- While some eat steak and drink expensive bottles of wine every night, others go hungry and thirsty.

- While some wear fancy designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and different outfits every day, others don't have a clean shirt on their back. 

It's nice to think that some "deserve it" more than others, but we also have to think who really needs it more. 

And if the pennies do ultimately come from Heaven (as all blessings do), then let us distribute these with compassion and lovingkindness as we know our Creator would want us to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 18, 2017

Don't Upset The Barista

Interesting sticker on this guy's smartphone this morning:
"Guns and Coffee"

And the Starbucks mermaid in the center is packing two pistols in her hands, instead of the usual fishy fins. 

Now the good thing about this particular guy was that he was also wearing a lapel pin from a prominent law enforcement agency here in Washington, D.C., so that was comforting. 

I've heard about the economic trade-off ("opportunity costs") between "Guns and Butter," meaning how much we choose to budget for defense vs. civilian goods/social entitlements.

But this is novel--"Guns and Coffee"--I guess you can have your coffee and your 2nd Amendment rights as well. 

What happens if you haven't had your coffee yet, does the little mermaid shoot first and ask questions later? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 26, 2017

Faces of The Metro and The Times





Do these people look happy and fulfilled or are they looking more vacant, exhausted, and miserable to you?

Is it the Metro? 
Is it Washington, D.C.? 
Is it their work? 
Is it family issues? 
Is it the economy?
Is it health problems?

For a superpower country with supposed incredible wealth, might, and freedom to enjoy it all--what the heck is going on.

Should we blame the politics and fighting? 
Should we blame the fake news optics?
Should we blame our gnawing adversaries (Axis of Evil Russia, Iran, North Korea...)?
Should we blame materialism and consumerism (and a corresponding lack of spirituality and values in our lives)? 

We have the greatest advances in history--revolutionizing energy, transportation, healthcare, communications, and more--so much to advance our well-being, to savor, and seemingly endless more to come. 

Why aren't people smiling?
Why aren't people jumping for joy more? 
Why aren't people even awake with eyes open to enjoy the life's journey?

There should be great hope in the future--with fruitful life there is hope and with hope there is excitement and joy--but without hope all is meaningless and lost.  

What is going on out there--psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, clergy?

We are trying to do everything right.

So where are we going wrong-wrong-wrong? ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 1, 2017

America The Polarized

So on one hand, in American politics today you have this--Make America Great Again.

And those who support Trump and change.
On the other side, you have those that oppose and resist.
And those that blame and wash their hands from the dirty politics.
And many that think that the worst in politics already happened.


But our problems are large and eating this nation up alive--from Iran and North Korea to Jobs, Healthcare, Immigration, and more



Our social safety net is fraying under a frightening and mounting national debt, and our national security needs are growing amid an endless array of real doomsday threats from WMD, EMPs, and Cyber Attacks.
What will it be America--blame, ridicule, resist, endless fighting or work to help and not hate. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 14, 2017

I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 

That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.

It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.

Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  

So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently...

A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 

He says, "Good morning. Where you from?"

I smile and respond, "Washington, D.C.," and add proudly, "the nation's capital!"

He then asks, "What do you do there?"

Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, "Oh, cleaning up the swamp."

To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, "Yeah right!" 

There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.

Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:

- Change the status quo of big stumbling government

- Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money

- Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us

- Fairly and compassionately address the nation's priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being

- Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein

And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 20, 2017

Nuttiest Duck In DC

Just when I thought I'd met all the nuts in this town (Washington, D.C.)...

I ran into this one in the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the Mall. 

Check this out!

The duck is head first waddling away it's feet in the air like a lost puppy.

Reminds me of too many folks who don't want to deal with the many consequential problems that our nation faces (fortunately, there are also many good folks that do!).

From the imminent dangers of North Korea, Iran, and ISIS to our staggering national debt (all of which I wrote about yesterday) along with other critical issues such as healthcare, immigration, and jobs, jobs, jobs. 

Then there are the all too frequent projects that are out of control and funding that is flushed down the proverbial $4,000 toilet. 

A history of dysfunction, fraud, waste, abuse (along with an assortment of personality disorders) have ripened for the picking in the election famous "Swamp"--that we've been promised will be drained!

Maybe that's what this duck is wading into...and what do you think he will find? 

This nation can no longer afford to go head in the sand unless we are looking to be a good-for-nothing dead duck rather than a thriving democracy and beacon of freedom to the world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal
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April 19, 2017

Nation In Denial

We are a nation in utter denial over our problems.

Just to name a few...

Whether from the threat of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, who smiled while displaying a video yesterday of nuclear missiles destroying the USA.

To the shooting death of three in Fresno, CA yesterday by a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" that was deemed not a terrorist attack.

To our national debt of $20 trillion which quadrupled in just the last 15 years under the administration of both political parties.  

Unfortunately, denial is still alive and well, while smiling photos of the North Korean dictator adorn the light poles outside the capital of the USA.

We don't like to admit our problems be it from despots threatening us with WMD to global terrorism that gives us no peace, and a mammoth debt that is sinking our national economic sustainability.

Smile for the camera!

Don't worry about big problem-solving. 

What we don't admit can't hurt us or can it?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2017

Congrats @POTUS








May G-d bless the United States of America and our true friends and allies!

It doesn't matter whether you are Republican or Democrat, Black or White, Jew or Christian, Male or Female--we need to unite and move this country forward and be great again!

Strength, Security, Health, Economy, Jobs, Education, Environment, Space, Jobs, Freedom, and Human Rights.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Fox News)
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January 11, 2017

Bombs But No Strategy

So the good news is that we have killed about 45,000 ISIS terrorist fighters.

The bad news is two-fold:

First, there are still roughly 15,000-30,000 remaining and more being recruited all the time. 

Second, it took us 49,315 bombs dropped over two years to do this. 

So we are averaging less than 1 kill per bomb!

Sure, we are also hitting other targets like oil and gas infrastructure and tankers.

But about 20,000 of the munitions dropped are GPS precision-guided (e..g Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Small Diameter Bombs, and Hellfire Missiles) and have cost $2 billion!

That comes out to a cost of around $45,000 just for just 40% the bombs to kill each and every ISIS terrorist, and doesn't even include all the extensive military infrastructure, planes, intelligence, and people. 

And this is just a super tiny drop in the bucket compared to the $4-$6 trillion that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, after 9/11, has cost just through 2013

--That represents between 20-30% of our our entire $20 trillion national debt!

At this rate, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the other terrorists may simply be able to cause irreparable damage and even bankrupt America.

How long can we afford to fight these extended and expensive wars against terrorism and never seem to even win--what's the strategy here? Is there one? 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to vaXzine)
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December 20, 2016

Just Cut It Out

What a way to handle global leadership...all you have to say is,  just "Cut it out!" and your job is done. 

- Cyber attacking the U.S. democratic election, invasion of Crimea, and encroaching on NATO with nuclear capable missiles...just cut it out! 

- Vast destruction of Aleppo including hospitals, schools, and markets, killings, refugees, and humanitarian crisis, and the dangerous use of chemical weapons on civilians...just cut it out!

- China stealing our drone and militarizing the South China Sea...just cut it out!

- North Korea testing advanced nukes and ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe and America and threatening to use them...just cut it out!

- Iran taking our sailors captive, humiliating them, buzzing our warships, and violating the nuclear arms deal...just cut it out!

- Abandoning our friends and allies and befriending our enemies sworn to kill us and not even being able to say the words, "Radical Islamist"...just cut it out!

- Spiraling divisiveness, rioting in our inner cities, and cycles of racial and police violence...just cut it out!

- An unsustainable Obamacare with double digit rising rates and decreasing insurance choices (many localities with only 1)...just cut it out!

- Doubling of the U.S. national debt by another $10 trillion and enacting regulations that are strangling business...just cut it out!

- Endless ISIS and other terrorist attacks (yesterday on Berlin, Zurich, Turkey and more) and calls it "workplace violence" or a traffic accident...just cut it out!

Anyone who says that now "We're feeling what not having hope feels like," truly must be referring to where we come from and not where we are going.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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