Showing posts with label Shutdown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shutdown. Show all posts

August 28, 2020

Better Than Hand Sanitizer LOL

What a great way to fulfill Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Tier 3 for love and belonging. 

Just use this bottle of Social Belonging! 

Better than dish detergent or hand sanitizer.

Good for attaining love, friends, societal and other belonging needs. 

22 fluid ounces!

That's enough to get you through the Coronavirus quarantine's loneliness and then some.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 20, 2020

Man Lamp

Gotta love this man lamp!

Probably great for your man cave. 

It stands on 2 legs.

Its spine is the electrical cord running down the middle. 

And the lamp shade is the hat. 

Sort of design ingenious. 

And during Coronavirus quarantine, it makes you feel perhaps like you have a little extra companionship. 

Even if it's just a lamp!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Facebook)
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July 26, 2020

Planning Ha Ha

Man Plans and G-d Laughs!
So in retrospect, in 2015, not a single person got the answer right to 'where do you se yourself 5 years from now?'

Where you gonna be in 2020?

Stuck at home for almost the entire year!

But you are a fortune teller and are so smart you should've rolled your dice in the ever exploding  bubble of a stock market.

Oh, that's right, you did!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 16, 2020

Missing Florida Vacations

So many months into Covid now, and probably so many more to go unfortunately.

Just missing getting out and down to Florida for a little vacation.

The palm trees.  The sun.  The beach.  A little fun. 

This isn't forever, right?

Hopefully, let's pray, Covid will be over and we can live again in freedom and without fear of contagion every moment of every day, day, day.  ;-)

(Credit Photo of artwork: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2020

Never Any Rest In Life

First day in 15 weeks! that we went to a real store yesterday.

Dick's Sporting Goods was open, but still not much else.

It was refreshing to look around again.

Nearly all the bicycles were cleaned out with people forced to do their own exercise routines these days.

People walking around mostly like they were on Mars.

Had some restaurants with just their patios open and people are sitting outside in the good weather.

Also, some eateries open for takeout.

Best part is still nature, and all the closures have brought us back to it.

This turtle was tanning in the warm sun on the rocks and swatting the snake away with its rear foot.

Sort of funny that even a turtle can never get any rest in life. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 11, 2020

Stock Market Pinocchio Style


Look folks, Pinocchio's nose is getting longer by the minute.

The market continues on a tear, even while the economy is heading in the other direction. 

I know people have been conditioned to buy on the dips, but I'm not sure that applies while we're in the middle (or maybe still just in the beginning) of a pandemic that has claimed 286,000 lives in just over 2 months (and that's with a global shutdown)!

Somehow, there is a notion that when things start to reopen that all the problems will just magically go away, including the $3 trillion we just added to our national debt, all the bankruptcies being declared, and all the job losses that are becoming permanent. 

If you believe this, perhaps you'd like to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

The greater fool theory is alive and well.  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2020

Lockdown In Coronavirus

This photo is sort of what it feels like to be in lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

You're stuck inside, but still have to keep everything moving anyway!

As we enter the next phase with people itching to go back out and "restart" life and the economy and the second wave where more people unfortunately get sick, we are really as they say:
Stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

And that's where bad things can happen (G-d forbid) and it's never a good place to be. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 28, 2020

Reach Out And Grab Ya

This is a candleholder. 

But in a bizarre way it looks almost like a toilet. 

The place for the candle is the toilet!

Sort of would make a pretty scary toilet in real life if the back of it (ie. tank) has a body with arms that looks like it is reaching out to grab you as you take your royal seat. 
Hey, someone let me out of here!

Ok, I have definitely been shut in too many days due to this Coronavirus thing. 

I am imagining the world's scariest toilets. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 10, 2019

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 

The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one's country. 

Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 

While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 

Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 

But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:

- From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  

- With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 

- Just recently, we've seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 

- We have also seen many years of pay freezes--with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!

- The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 

- Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 

- There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 

- Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of "conduct" issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.

- The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 

While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 

For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 

Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country--from the front lines to the back offices--we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 28, 2019

Welcome Back - Leadership and Donuts

Really impressed today going back to work after the 5-week Federal government shutdown...

And who is at the front gate, in the dark and freezing cold welcoming every single person back?

The director of the agency!

And not only that, but he is handing out morning donuts to the crew. 

This was a truly spectacular display of leadership. 

I've seen this only one other time in my 30-year career and that was at the Secret Service, where the director stood behind the dessert table at the agency holiday party serving out the ice cream. 

Humility and giving are what true leadership is all about. 

I am proud to serve under such leaders as these.  ;-)

(Source Photo--not from today--by 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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January 20, 2019

Compromise = Winning

So this shutdown has really been an education in political dysfunction, bickering, and childish behavior. 

But when President Trump yesterday went on the air and provided a compromise solution whereby he gets funding for a 200 mile border wall/barrier and the Democrats get money for humanitarian relief at the border, high-tech sensors, and years of protection for 700,000 children that came to this country illegally (DACA) and another 300,000 for immigrants from designated countries that prevent their sage return (TPS)--it seems like everybody would come out a winner!

That's negotiation.  That's compromise.  That's diplomacy.  

When President Trump did this, I thought he really won the day, especially when the Democrats rejected his proposals and offered nothing in return or as an alternative. 

Even if the other side disagrees with the solution, they can and should offer what their version of a compromise/agreement would be and so on between the parties--this way, they can negotiate until both sides get to the magical compromise that everyone can agree to and live with. 

What I learned from this is that regardless of your political leanings, the side that shows flexibility and compromise and the desire to get something done, is the side that wins the argument, period. 

Those that want it all or are simply obstructionist and haters are the big losers in the debate. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 17, 2019

Trump Vs. Pelosi -- The Citizens Lose

Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, majorly dissed President Trump by attempting to cancel his State of the Union address for Tuesday, January 29 citing lack of resources to secure the National Special Security Event (NSSE) due to the government shutdown. 

In turn, CNN applauded Pelosi for having:
- Just pulled a major power move on Donald Trump's State of the Union

Today, President Trump reciprocated by refusing to provide military aircraft for Pelosi's trip aboard citing the same shutdown. 

In this case, The Guardian condemns President Trump stating that he:
- Escalates shutdown row by cancelling Pelosi trip
I am not taking sides (seriously), but just can't help but notice the incredible bias in the "Fake News" that we are all being fed in the massive media "echo chamber." 

Again, Pelosi cancels Trump and its reported on as she did a great thing, while when Trump responds and cancels Pelosi, then that is reported on as he is escalating the situation. 

Something is very wrong in this country--regardless of which politicians and parties you love or hate and whether you agree with a border wall or not--shouldn't we get news that is honest and even-handed. 

The system is broken and we are the masses that are being controlled in our thinking and our voting.  

This is not democracy--it is social control and b*llsh*t brainwashing! ;-)
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January 12, 2019

Border Security - The Facts

So in this longest of U.S. government shutdowns, one thing that is missing from the debate are an articulation of the facts. 

All I hear day-in and -out is that President Trump wants to build a wall or barrier on the Southern border because there is a crisis. And the Democrats in turn say it's not necessary, it's a waste of money, and even that it's immoral, and that they will resist Trump!

But this is not a reasoned debate!

Who cares who wants what and who hates who in politics.

We need to be presented with a solid communication of facts, figures, and why should we support a position or not. 

Yes, an endorsement by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is helpful, but the opposition can just claim partisan politics. 

So here are some simple facts to inform the discussion:

Gun Trafficking:
- Over 253,000 guns annually cross the border from the U.S. to Mexico.

Drug Trafficking:
- Cartels send $64,000,000,000 of drugs annually from Mexico to U.S. 

Human Trafficking:
Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked annually into the U.S. 

Gang Members:
Almost 6,000 gang members in 2018 were deported by ICE.

Illegal Immigrants:
- The U.S. and Customer and Border Protection apprehended more than 500,000 illegals trying to enter in 2008, and there are between 12 to 22 million illegals in the U.S, today

Looking at these numbers, I am not sure how anyone can say that the current border situation is secure--it isn't. 

So whatever we are doing with agents, sensors, surveillance, intelligence, inspection, and interdiction --no matter how good it is--it is not enough. 

Certainly a request for Border Wall funding for $5 billion out of a $4.4 trillion dollar budget and placing barriers on hundreds of miles out of a 2,000 mile border, does not seem at all extreme!

While I do not like to be on a government shutdown, I certainly don't see why this can't be resolved with some reasoned border security funding that includes among the other security measures, a wall/barrier. 

A strategically-placed border barrier only stands to reason in a layered defense/system of systems approach to security. 

For some of those that don't want the wall, and only want votes from a broken immigration system, this is a fight for power, rather than a genuine argument on how to help secure the country. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 9, 2019

Government Shutdown or Middle East Peace

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called "Government Shutdown or Middle East Peace."
"It is day 19 of this p-r-o-l-o-n-g-e-d Federal Government Shutdown. Having plenty of time on my hands today, I am debating which is actually easier to solve--the government shutdown or peace in the Middle East."

We may have to wait for the Messiah for both of these to be peaceful resolved. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2019

What Does A Government Shutdown Feel Like

So its day 18 of the Federal government shutdown. 

The first couple of weeks wasn't so bad, because it was the holidays and vacation time ("use or lose"), so I think most people didn't miss work that much. 

Also, people got paid at the end of December, since the pay cycle is on a two week lag.  

For the first part of the shutdown, there is errands to run and things to catch up on--those things that you always wish you had the time for and well now you do. 

But by now, you've already done those errands and cleaned your house and car, shinned up your shoes, and even caught up on some reading. 

Then we also have the missed payroll coming at the end of the week. For those families that are on a single income, this is particularly hard, and even where one partner is working, still your income in cut in half. 

You can't go out shopping like this!

You also can't go anywhere--like away--because you need to be available to be back at work on a day's notice--whether or not it looks like that day is ever coming or not!

Another concern for those that care about their work and getting things accomplished, is that work is like a moving train, and when there is momentum, things can get done--even at the "pace of government."  But when you come to a full stop like this for an extended period of time, then it will definitely take some time to get everyone back on board the train and for it to get moving at a decent clip again.  Let's face it, you can't just turn people on and off like a light switch--you're dealing with human beings with feelings, plans, and bills. 

Maybe the worst part about the shutdown is feeling like a pawn in the big boys and girls game of Washington Politics--even if you feel the border wall is important, which I certainly do, as federal employee, you still don't want to feel like the sacrificial lamb. 

Why Congress and the President can't compromise and give the $5 billion for the wall for something in return like immigration reform or even just give half and call it a day is really beyond my comprehension. 

Out of our $4.4 trillion a year federal budget, how does it make any sense to begrudge a couple of billion for a wall to bring order to the chaos at our southern border--can anyway say "caravan?" 

Let's face it, drug smuggling, human trafficking, dangerous gangs and terrorists, and illegal crossings have no place in a civilized country, especially the United States of America.  

At some point, our politicians seem to have lost their passion for and dedication to what's actually good for America and instead replaced it with identity politics and a sick insatiable greed for power, plain and simple. 

All sides need to be patriots and not political kingpins, and they need to give a little to get a little for the betterment of our country overall--maybe then we can move forward. 

And by the way, it would be great at some point to let us go back to work and do our jobs. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 23, 2018

Trump Is Right On The Border Wall

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "We Need To Stand Strong On The Wall."

By themselves, walls do not work to fill us spiritually or protect us physically. Rather, they are a necessary component in a normal and healthy toolbox for living our lives. Spiritually, we need to not just pray toward the holy wall in Jerusalem, but we must augment this with following G-d commandments–doing good in our service to Hashem and in how we treat others. Likewise with protecting us physically, we need a strong mix of “gates, guards, and guns.” A wall is a critical component of our overall spiritual and physical well-being and protection.

Until Mashiach comes and the temple is rebuilt and there is peace on earth, we need to pray to the Western Wall (Kotel) for our spiritual well-being and have border walls to protect us physically.

(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 29, 2017

Dysfunction Society

So the world is continuing to go nuts--and it's like everyone is behaving like Negan from The Walking Dead!

North Korea has achieved ICBM capability with a missile launch yesterday to 2,800 miles altitude—11 times higher than the International Space Station—giving Axis of Evil, North Korea the ability to now hit Washington, D.C.!

At the same time, a career civil servant tries to pull a fast one on the Trump Administration—challenging the President’s right to appoint an Acting Director over the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which is part of the Executive Branch of government—and hoping that the Senate then won’t confirm Trump’s new appointee for Director, all of which would leave her in charge of CFPB for the next 3 years!  Of course, the courts don’t see it her way, but as the Wall Street Journal noted her coup attempt is definitely something to take note of in democratic, America.

In the background, the Democrats and Republicans continue to beat each other silly and senseless, and not only with stalled legislation on almost every front from Healthcare to Immigration, but now minority leaders Schumer and Pelosi are even refusing to meet with the President over enacting a government budget leading us to another looming government shutdown in December…we can’t seem to keep the government functional or even running for the most powerful nation on Earth.   

Finally, Bitcoin—an artificial computer-generated currency, advanced 1,000-fold this year to hit $10,000! Talking about another financial bubble reminiscent of the manic investment in tulips in the 17th century. What’s the value of Bitcoin or sunflowers? Whatever you want it to be! It’s not about the technology, which may be great, but rather the phony valuing of cryptocurrency, which few understand, and we all know how these bubbles end.  

So overall, we have national security, the administration of our government, and economic stability all in grossly abnormal territory. 

When things get this crazy, eventually you can be sure that something will first start to crack and then potentialy really break, and when it does, will we see more Negan with his brain-bashing baseball bat, Lucille? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 1, 2017

Is Our Democracy Failing Us?

The latest was Kathy Griffin grotesquely holding up a decapitated and bloodied head of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Before that was Stephen Colbert uncool, profanity-laced barrage against the President.

Even Madonna lost her sh*t and threatened to blow up the White House at the mass women's march earlier this year. 

But all this is still only the tip of the iceberg, as liberals "resist" him and extremists even riot and commit acts of violence; the investigators look to impeach him; the mass media lynches him daily; witches try to cast a mass spell on him; and even late night comedians make him into the butt of every joke and asses wisecrack. 

No respect anymore.

No genuine dialogue.

No negotiation.

No compromise.

No problem-solving.

No putting the nation first. 

The glove are off as tempers and politics are boiling over in Washington, D.C. and all across the nation.

As liberals and conservatives battle it out for the direction of our country.

Some may say that this is what democracy is supposed to do...

But at this extreme, this is how nations self-destruct, not govern!

Who is laughing?

Certainly those that would threaten our way of life:  Russia. China. North Korea. Iran. ISIS and Al-Qaeda. 

Only sane Americans are crying out for leadership to stop killing each other and instead coalesce--irrespective of right and left--and to move this nation forward stronger in the world--militarily, economically, and socially.

As we continue to beat each other senseless with new revelations of debauchery and corruption every 5 minutes on TV, our politicians are black and blue, their agendas are dead on arrival, their proposals are torn to shreds, their votes are filibustered, the parties are deadlocked, the government nearly shutdown again, and progress is nowhere to be found.

As some states talk of succession, some nutty people out there are advocating for violence to our elected leaders, and others are even calling for civil war, should it come to it. 

As many have commented, civility is gone from political discourse, and instead angry and violent discord rules!

This is not a healthy democracy, but a political system being torn apart by extremists and haters.

How do we get the destructive abnormal new normal back to a fruitful normal is normal again?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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