Donald Trump’s Campaign Is Becoming an Exercise in Public Insanity

If it doesn’t work out in his favor, someone is always conspiring against him.

image.png

If the economy goes south, as a lot of people are warning us it will, then it’s comforting to know that the president* already is only a baby step away from blaming the Gnomes Of Zurich. From The New York Times:

He has insisted that his own handpicked Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, is intentionally acting against him. He has said other countries, including allies, are working to hurt American economic interests. And he has accused the news media of trying to create a recession. “The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week. “The problem they have is that the economy is way too strong and we will soon be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!”
Mr. Trump has repeated the claims in private discussions with aides and allies, insisting that his critics are trying to take away what he sees as his calling card for re-election. Mr. Trump has been agitated in discussions of the economy, and by the news media’s reporting of warnings of a possible recession. He has said forces that do not want him to win have been overstating the damage his trade war has caused, according to people who have spoken with him. And several aides agree with him that the news media is overplaying the economic fears, adding to his feeling of being justified, people close to the president said.

Oh, lovely.

Weaponized paranoia always has been at the heart of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago’s political identity. In the tangles of his mind, he is always standing strong and alone against a vast array of enemies, including the minions of The Deep State and certain Guatemalan toddlers. If he feels like his presidency* is in serious peril, he’s liable to go off the deep end. He’s already setting up the members of the cult to refuse to accept the result of any election he doesn’t win. (He’s recently gone off again about those busloads of Massachusetts voters who drove to New Hampshire to deprive him of his win there in 2016. Neglecting the fact that IF all these people were bussed in to vote- they voted IN a Republican Governor) If a recession hits, he’s already blamed his own Fed chair and the evil media. Who would be left?

The president’s broadsides follow a long pattern of conspiratorial thinking. He has claimed, without evidence, that undocumented immigrants cast millions of ballots, costing him the popular vote in the 2016 election. During the campaign, he predicted that the system might prove to be “rigged” if he did not win. He conjured up a “deep state” conspiracy within the government to thwart his election and, more recently, his agenda. And he has said reporters are trying to harm him with pictures of empty seats at his rallies.

Unless somebody finds the strawberries soon, this campaign is going to be an exercise in public insanity.

It May Be Time To Sell Your Stock

From Jim Collins at  FORBES

The yield curve has inverted and you should sell your stocks.  That is a simple, declarative statement, and yet one that I have not read anywhere this morning.  Having awakened to the news that the yield on the 2-year U.S. Treasury note had risen above that on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, I have enjoyed this morning’s sell-off in the equity markets.  I founded a new asset management firm, Excelsior Capital Partners, a month ago to initiate short positions on stocks, and so far the timing has worked out well.

There seems to be a basic misunderstanding of the meaning of the inverted yield curve and its meaning for equity markets.  I am making a few bucks on this confusion, to be sure, but I would rather see an educated investing public. Some of the articles I have read this morning in the financial media are wildly misleading.  So here are a few answers to basic questions:

What is an inverted yield curve?  The yield spread is a simple calculation that involves subtracting short-term interest rates from long-term interest rates.  The yield curve is a plot of interest rates for government bonds of all maturities in a given country. Bond yields represent, in percentage terms, the price investors are willing to pay for those securities.  When demand for bond purchases rises, prices rise, and thus yields (interest rates) fall. When long-term bond yields are lower than short-term yields, the spread is negative and the yield curve is inverted.

Money has a time value.  A dollar today should always be worth more than a dollar tomorrow.  I think most investors grab that basic fact.  There’s a second derivative there, however.  At most times in economic history, a dollar two days from now has been worth more than tomorrow’s dollar, which is worth more than today’s dollar.  Similarly, a dollar a year from now is worth more than that two-day dollar and the dollar five years from now is worth more than the dollar one year from now, and on and on and on.  If I am lending you a dollar for five years not five days, I want an extra incentive to do that. Five years gives you much more time to default on that loan, plus—in a concept known as duration among bond investors—there is a much larger chance that the interest a lender will earn over a longer time period can be rendered less valuable by inflation, always the biggest factor impacting bond pricing.

The rate of inflation in the U.S. probably won’t change much in three months.  In ten years, though, it could show a marked difference.  The Federal Reserve and other central banks have consistently referred to the fear of deflationary pressures as the biggest worry facing financial markets.  This morning’s bond markets are telling you that inflation is going to be much much lower in 2029 than it is in 2019.

That is the key meaning of an inverted yield curve.  Inflation expectations for future periods are lower and that can only mean a slowing, and perhaps contracting, global economy.  Stocks are valued based on growth, and the colossi that are Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, etc. have all been built on rapid rates of growth in revenues and earnings.  If the bond market is telling us the global economy is slowing, the stock market should price in lower rates of growth for individual stocks.  That is why shares of those tech titans—and the vast majority of stocks around the globe–are falling sharply today.

Isn’t lower inflation a good thing?  If it costs me less to buy things outright and lower interest rates also result in lower costs to finance purchases made over time (house, car, etc.) how is that a bad thing?  Simply put, it’s not a bad thing for consumers. At the same time it is a horrible, terrible, awful thing for financial institutions such as banks. If it costs a bank more to finance the money underlying a loan than the interest that bank can earn on the loan, the bank would take a loss on that loan.  Obviously bankers are not stupid, and loan growth can be expected to decline when short-term funding costs are higher than long-term loan prices.

The global economy in 2019 is based on access to credit, and it has been for the past 50 years.  This is what we should have learned from 2008. Jamie Dimon’s balance sheet at JPMorgan is much more important than the one based on your household’s financial situation.  I am sorry if that offends you from a political standpoint, but please do not misunderstand. There have been zero real changes in policy or statute since 2008 that would change that.  If credit conditions dry up, we could just easily see a meltdown in 2019 as we did in 2008-2009. These are basic facts, not conspiracy theories or political slogans.

For the past 10 years, naysayers have been calling for another global financial crisis and yet my stock portfolio has gone up, up, up…what is different now?  The biggest development in the world economy over the past decade has been the astounding growth of the financial system in China.  China’s economy, which was barely dented by the financial crisis that ravaged Western economies in 2008-2009, is now, ten years later, just as dependent on credit as that of the U.S. and in fact more so, by certain measures.  The Chinese only really embraced state-sponsored capitalism in the early 1990s and it took them 20 years to embrace the concept of leverage. But, man, have they done it in a big way.

In December 2008 the total assets of the Chinese financial system were $9.1 trillion.  That compared to $12.2 trillion in U.S. financial system assets. As of June 30, 2018, the latest data available, Chinese financial system assets totaled $39.0 trillion dwarfing the U.S.’ total of $17.5 trillion.  So, the Chinese financial system has more than quadrupled in the past decade. Does that worry you? It should.

That’s why pictures of protestors occupying the airport in Hong Kong are so scary.  That’s why the Chinese government’s decision to let the yuan/dollar exchange rate rise above 7:1 (making Chinese financial assets worth less in dollar terms) is so scary.  That’s why President Trump’s trade tweets can and will move the markets significantly—in either direction. Anything that makes Chinese companies less likely to repay their loans is a decided negative for global bond markets.  Each of those three factors certainly qualifies.

That’s also why the yield curve in the U.S. has inverted.  Any measure of U.S. current economic activity or financial system liquidity looks fine or even better than fine.  But the bond market looks like the world is in the middle of a global catastrophe. Why? Because global markets are interlinked.

You can’t just sit in Peoria, Illinois and say the fact that Danish banks like Jyske are now offering negative rates on 30-year mortgages doesn’t affect you.  It does. Some financial institution you use will have exposure to European bonds and when those bonds mature refunding them at negative rates is going to lead to losses.  You can’t just sit in Rexmont, Pennsylvania and say that the fact that assets in China’s financial system now represent more than half of the world’s GDP doesn’t concern you. If you have a 401k, it damn well should.

So, wake up, smell the coffee and lessen your holdings of equities.  The bond market and its inverted yield curve are telling you that economic growth is slowing—or perhaps even contracting.  The valuation of stocks, above all else, depends on estimates for rates of earnings growth. Anyone who is telling you “don’t panic” or “you can’t time the market” is a complete buffoon and should be ignored.  That includes many of the talking heads on CNBC, by the way.

Selling stocks into an economic downturn isn’t panic, it is just smart investing.  Practice it.

 

It’s NOT a LIBERAL or CONSERVATIVE Problem

I woke up this morning to see that at least 29 human beings were needlessly killed.

We are really screwing up our children. The first day of school is coming up for many and along with FIRE DRILLS they practice ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS. The anxiety that children have today are at an all time high.

People went into a Walmart to buy groceries and 20 souls never left.

People went out to a bar to have a drink with friends and 9 souls lay dead on the street.

I was in a Walmart yesterday in New Hampshire and took notice of a few other patrons had guns on them. I noticed the Gun cases and ammunition cases right next to the fishing supplies.

I think it is a safe bet that there were a number of people in the Walmart in El Paso who also had guns on them. The NRA wants you to believe that all we need was more “good guys” with guns. I think we can all see that it is an out right fallacy. The NRA is no longer about gun education but about supporting the gun industry. I have a number of my family members who are members of law enforcement. My wife, my brother and my father. They can tell you that the LAST thing they want to do is go into a shooting scene and not know WHO is the good guy and WHO is the bad guy. All they see is potential danger. You, having your gun in Walmart is not helping the situation.

A Liberal is going to tell you that this is a GUN issue. That there are too many guns on the street.

A Conservative is going to tell you that we have a MENTAL HEALTH problem.

See- it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

What we need is our leaders in Washington to do something on EITHER issue. Have some backbone.

Keeping Things in Perspective

I have sat down to write about my friend VERNON a couple of times. Nothing I have written seems right.

xTgsHMATQ4StB4ArbffqAQI am lucky enough to live on the seacoast of New Hampshire. We are still a town small enough where you get to know most everyone and everyone still stops to help. Vern is a character in this town. Everyone knows him. His bright smile. His happy, “hello!” and his generally cheerful disposition.

I first met Vern at the now closed BREAKING NEW GROUNDS. The cafe on Market Square frequented by locals and tourists alike. Vern and I would share a table with a few other regulars as I had my afternoon coffee.  Sometimes we would talk, sometimes we would both be reading or writing. If you were lucky enough- you would make Vern’s CARD LIST.  He would sit at  the cafe and write cards to friends. Things to cheer them up, wish them a good day or just say “HI”. (I made the list by the way!) Vern has some medical issues that make walking and balance a challenge.  Even though getting around for him is difficult, he is in town on most days. At our new coffee hang out, Cup of Joes, at The Gaslight for lunch or just walking through town and sitting outside on warmer days. Many locals know Vern from his days working at the bank or the art gallery.

As the year went on, Vern’s mobility challenges increased. He went from a cane to a walker. He regularly goes to PT and I have even brought him to my Portsmouth gym, Atlantic Gymnastics, to work on some strength.

GoVicnlNRBu%UJezEBN31Q

My personal goal is to see him back on a cane this spring.

Vern and I were trying to meet up for a coffee today. I was running late because today was one of those days where I was just not having any luck. I plow my gyms and properties and today I needed to spread salt on our icy parking lots. In short, the salt spreader broke. I had to spread the salt by hand. Take the salt spreader apart. Try to fit it. In the process of trying to fix it break off two bolts skinning all the knuckles on one hand.  I then ended up bleeding all over my jacket as I drive the truck to the mechanic who will now fix what I couldn’t.

I could have been in a really pissed off mood. I was late for meetings, behind with work that I needed to do. And I was going to miss my coffee with Vern. But you know what? I live in a great area. With a great family and great friends. I can get around with out any help. I do not need a cane or a walker and if I did I know that people in town would help me carry my coffee.

Vern- Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective and thanks for the cookie today!

AgrVUHsBSFK1L%Owka2mag.jpg

UC San Diego history prof’s book on fall of Rome’s democracy draws parallels to today

UC San Diego history prof’s book on fall of Rome’s democracy draws parallels to today

The parallels are striking: Rising income inequality. Partisan gridlock. The erosion of political norms and the loss of faith in public institutions. Angry populist uprisings.

Is America going the way of Rome?

“Mortal Republic,” by UC San Diego history professor Edward Watts, raises the question. The book has been garnering national media attention — The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Time, Vox, the New York Times — since its release in November.

“The lesson we can take away from the Roman example is that a republic doesn’t last unless you protect it,” Watts said in an interview. “It can and will die unless you ensure that it lives and thrives.”

Rome’s representative democracy lasted almost 500 years, still among the longest in history, and its checks and balances and other consensus-building elements were used by America’s founders as they drafted their own system of government.

But what the Romans put in place slowly crumbled and led to an autocrat taking power, and the early Americans understood that, too. The United States would be a republic, Benjamin Franklin once said, “if we can keep it.”

Watts, 43, has been teaching Roman history for about 20 years and he’s noticed a shift in his students’ interests away from the later empire to what its republic might teach us about the challenges facing democracies in the United States and elsewhere.

He found himself increasingly having similar conversations with family and friends. And he began thinking about the structural similarities between the Roman government when it started coming under strain and some of the things happening today.

So he wrote this book, his fifth.

The main purpose was to help readers “better appreciate the serious problems that result both from politicians who breach a republic’s political norms and from citizens who choose not to punish them for doing so,” he writes.

Watts cites complacency as a key danger.

“You take for granted the fact that you are going to live in a free society and you take for granted the fact that the republic that’s been there for hundreds of years is going to remain there for hundreds more,” he said.

“What that does is give you the false sense of assurance that you can take steps and make decisions that have short-term benefits for you as a politician or as a voter, but have long-term consequences that are quite negative for the system.”

Asking questions

Watts grew up in New Jersey and got his Ph.D in history at Yale. He taught for 10 years at Indiana University in Bloomington before coming in 2012 to UC San Diego, where he specializes in Roman and Byzantine history.

“I got interested in history because as a high school student I was first exposed to Roman culture and Roman history and really was shocked by how much we could learn from a society that is so distant from us,” he said.

That got him asking questions, trying to bridge the present and the past, and he found the process both challenging and rewarding.

“Mortal Republic” shows how Rome’s elected leaders who initially believed in national service and personal honor moved away from collaboration, compromise and consensus as the population expanded.

Wealth became concentrated in a small number of families who figured out how to manipulate an increasingly sophisticated economy, and they used their money to influence the political process. The fortunes of the middle class stagnated.

Attempts to address income inequality and ease public resentment moved slowly. Rome’s army was privatized, which eventually caused soldiers to put the interests of plundering commanders (and their own desires to share in the loot) ahead of their country.

Over the course of a century, starting in about 130 B.C., outbreaks of economic populism grew increasingly violent. Government rules were broken, traditions ignored, the notion of a common good trampled. Immigrants were disparaged. Politicians used their own militias to intimidate opponents, and when that didn’t work they sometimes turned to assassinations.

Eventually came civil war, and the republic was done. Romans traded liberty for the stability promised by the autocracy of Augustus.

“Above all else, the Roman republic teaches the citizens of its modern descendants the incredible dangers that come along with condoning political obstruction and courting political violence,” Watts writes. “Roman history could not more clearly show that, when citizens look away as their leaders engage in these corrosive behaviors, their republic is in mortal danger.”

Because of when his book came out, some online-forum commentators have dismissed it as a thinly veiled jab at President Trump, whose two years in the White House have been marked by a steady upending of the status quo.

Watts was writing the book during the 2016 campaign, so Trump was certainly on his mind. But he said the president wasn’t the main target.

Political, not partisan

Like most college historians, Watts is cautious about going too far in comparing and contrasting what happened 2,000 years ago to what’s going on today.

“You can’t take a political figure like Trump or Pelosi or whoever and say there’s a Roman example and this is how we understand this person,” he said.

Instead he hopes readers will see that his book “gives us a set of tools to think about the American republic as something that has particular qualities, and it allows us to imagine courses of action that allow us to advocate for the system,” he said. “So in that sense, I think the book is both highly political and not partisan. I hope that it gives us a way to speak for the larger concern about our political system.”

His own view is that “we are in a dangerous political process right now. I think that we’re in the middle of something, the end of the beginning maybe.”

But he also thinks “we have time to right the ship” if Americans can “again embrace what makes our republic work, and defend it.”

That means being willing to support a politician’s policies while also objecting to his or her methods, Watts said. It means refusing to allow governance be a zero-sum game where one side wins and the other side loses.

“I think that’s one of the profound departures we have in the United States from what a republic is supposed to do,” Watts said. “In a functional republic, you don’t have politicians playing exclusively to their base and disregarding everybody else.”

He’s been heartened by the responses to the book from critics and other readers who think it “offers a way we can think positively about steps we can take to maybe correct the trajectory of our political life.”

Will we take them?

“I won’t say that I can guarantee that will happen,” he said. “But I think there is a path forward that has a positive outcome. The challenge we have is to understand what that path is, and decide if that’s what we as a society want.”

A List of Presidents Worst to Best

I firmly believe that no one is purely good or purely evil. The presidents job must be insanely difficult. The stress of the  decisions they must make even with the BEST advisors would drive me over the edge.  I googled ” Presidents BEST and WORST moments” . I wasn’t looking for anything overly political slamming one person or defending another. I was just looking for some facts. Here is what I found. I think it was from USA Today.

Tony

Author’s note: Yes, I know there have officially been 45 presidents. See below for the commander in chief who messed up the numbers.

The bad ones

44. James Buchanan – Didn’t believe black people should be allowed citizenship. Also did nothing to prevent the Civil War, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people. If his own mother saw him walking down the street, she’d punch him right in the nose.

43. Franklin Pierce – Remembered for 1.) trying to expand slavery into Kansas and Nebraska; 2.) nothing else.

42. Andrew Jackson – Slave trader. Slaughterer of Native Americans. On $20 bill!

41. William Henry Harrison – Died after 31 days in office. Tried to officially legalize slavery in Indiana when he served as governor of the territory. Known by nicknames “Old Tippecanoe,” “Hot Rod.”

40. John Tyler – After his presidency, he was elected to the Confederate Congress. Like if the “Independence Day” sequel featured Bill Pullman running for mayor of Mars.

39. James K. Polk – As a 10-year-old, he had surgery for bladder stones. His only anesthetic? Brandy. That’s pretty cool, but he also supported slavery.

38. Zachary Taylor – Body was exhumed in 1991 after a theory surfaced that he was poisoned because of his anti-slavery stance. He owned slaves, too, but felt icky about it. Back then that made him a progressive.

37. Andrew Johnson – Slave owner. Was tasked with healing the nation after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Responded by getting impeached.

36. Millard Fillmore — Once belonged to the Know Nothing Party, a political organization built on hatred of Catholics and Irish immigrants. Somehow that’s the second-worst thing he did. Also supported returning slaves to their plantations. (Man, a lot of these guys supported slavery.)

35. Donald Trump – At least he doesn’t support slavery.

34. Richard Nixon – Fascinating and brilliant man who obliterated any chance of us ever trusting the federal government again.

33. George W. Bush – Started wars and stood by as the economy disemboweled itself. In a few years, when we’re fighting off radioactive slug monsters for half-eaten cans of pinto beans, we’ll remember him fondly.

32. John Adams – Thought it should be illegal to criticize the president. If elected today, he would imprison half of all Facebook users.

31. Warren G. Harding – Used his power to enrich oil companies. Patron saint to all current politicians.

30. Herbert Hoover – Once ordered the U.S. military to attack a bunch of World War I veterans, a story that is somehow true.

The mediocre ones

29. James Garfield – Shot six months into his term. Died after his surgeons failed to wash their hands. Went on to inspire a famous comic strip: “Cathy.”

28. Gerald Ford – Did great Chevy Chase impression.

27. Bill Clinton – Walking personal disaster with a shady political legacy. Still one of the more likable Democrats.

26. Chester A. Arthur – Had the same facial hair as Lemmy from Motorhead.

25. Martin Van Buren – Fighting to end slavery? Great! Forcing Native Americans off their land? Not great at all.

24. George H.W. Bush – Until he died he Could probably still beat you up.

23. Jimmy Carter – Was a very nice man and therefore unqualified to be president.

22. Rutherford B. Hayes – Had great beard. Truly the hipster of the 1870s aristocrat crowd.

21. William McKinley – Never climbed Mount McKinley.

20. Grover Cleveland – Only man to be elected to non-consecutive terms (thanks for messing up the numbers on this list, G.C.). Took four years off in between to travel through Europe and find himself.

19. Benjamin Harrison – Former Indiana resident! Fought for black voting rights. Utterly forgotten, should be remembered.

18. William Howard Taft – Last president to consistently wear facial hair, at least until the Dwight D. Eisenhower Mutton Chop Debacle of 1954.

17. Lyndon Johnson – Champion of Civil Rights. War-criminal-esque bungler of Vietnam. Picked up his beagles by their ears; did the same thing to Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

16. Calvin Coolidge – His refusal to regulate Wall Street may have partly led to the crash of ’29. But hey, he also kept his mouth shut most of the time, and that’s such an endearing quality these days that I’m surprised I didn’t rank him No. 1.

15. Harry S. Truman – Lost 1948 election to Thomas Dewey in a landslide.

14. Dwight D. Eisenhower – When people say “Make America Great Again,” they’re talking about returning to the Eisenhower administration of the 1950s. And why not? It was positively utopic – unless you were black, Hispanic, LGBT or a woman.

The good ones

13. Ulysses S. Grant – U-S-A! U-S-A!

12. Woodrow Wilson – Maybe I should put his wife, Edith Wilson, here instead. She basically ran the executive branch after Wilson had a stroke in his second term.

11. Barack Obama – You’re probably mad about this.

10. Ronald Reagan – Great Communicator. Pioneer of greedy-Wall-Street implosions. Beloved by current-day politicians he would probably hate.

9. John F. Kennedy – American icon whose death hurled the country into a dank darkness from which it still hasn’t crawled. His life was cut short before he could truly achieve greatness / screw everything up.

8. John Quincy Adams – Better than his dad.

7. James Madison – Owned slaves. But he basically wrote the Constitution, so people conveniently forget about that.

6. James Monroe – Owned slaves. After Jefferson and Adams, he was the third president to die on the Fourth of July – none of which, surprisingly, from fireworks accidents.

5. George Washington – Owned slaves. Father of our country. Had wooden teeth, horse hair, bionic limbs that gave him supernatural jumping ability.

4. Theodore Roosevelt – Davy Crocket killed a bear when he was only three. Teddy wondered what took him so long.

3. Franklin Roosevelt – Piloted America through the Great Depression and World War II. Remembered by conservatives as filthy communist.

2. Thomas Jefferson – Basically one of the most fascinating Americans to ever live. Stratospheric genius. Hypocritical slave owner.

1. Abraham Lincoln – An American saint. I’m tempted to write “if you don’t like Lincoln, you can get the hell out,” but he would hate that statement because it goes against everything the country he saved stands for.

Topping this list with Lincoln is like ending a rundown of “best hamburgers” with filet mignon. He was too good for us and we didn’t deserve him.

We probably don’t deserve this country either, but we’re lucky to have it. Let’s not make the same mistake we did with Lincoln.

Cruising with Mom

This last week I took my MOM on a cruise.

5 years ago my wife lost her mom. My mother-in-law was a great lady and my wife and I both wish we had more time with her. Another dinner, another vacation. I learned that time is fleeting and we need to make the best of the time we have. Ever since then, I have taken my mom on a vacation every year. We have been to Iceland and on a few cruises.

My parents divorced when I was 10. My brother and I lived most of the time with our Mom. There is a tight bond between us. This year Mom and I decided to go on a cruise out of Tampa. What she didn’t know is that my brother and his son were going to join us.

We boarded the ship, checked into our stateroom and went and sat on the deck. My brother texted me when he arrived. I said, “Mom, lets go see if our luggage is here”. We went down in our room and I texted my brother that we were here.

There was a knock on the door and I asked mom to go get it. She opened up the door and there stood her grandson. She was stunned. She looked at me, back at him and said, “how did you get here?”. Then my brother stuck his head around the corner.

o6w252rlirqm7tf2bswxbbrg

After she was done crying we went out on the balcony for a group photo

wwiwwrhhsc6qqh6juhloew

The trip was great.

Mom has always struggled with directions.  She is the kind of person who needs a GPS to get out of her driveway. We can laugh about it now BUT she spend a great deal of time wandering around the ship trying to find our room, the restaurant or the casino. I pointed out that our stateroom was 79. Therefore on the ODD (starboard) side of ship.

s8xmy2dkrkm7eqkmi8aqqw

At one point my brother and I were sitting at a bar and talking to someone about mom’s lack of direction. We look up, and there goes mom wandering by. A few minutes later she wandered by in the other direction.

It was a pretty stormy trip. Rain and wind but we had a good time. Our stateroom had a good size (nearly walk in) closet. Mom had stepped in to get a shirt and a wave pitched the boat closing the closet door on her. There was NO HANDLE on the inside of the closet! She did manage to wedge her fingers in and get the door open. It was pretty funny.

d01vbkxxqcm5hosmgon5dq

What we know and what we don’t know.

Warning, folks, this one’s long. It’s been a busy, busy week for USA Gymnastics, the fallout from which is ongoing and seemingly continual. So, let’s sum up what we know: A. Rhonda Faehn, National Team Coordinator, was forced to resign/fired/let go, for reasons unknown. B. Following Faehn’s removal – which may or may not have […]

via What we know, what we don’t know – and what we suspect — College gym writer – and gym writer, period.

WHAT ANIMALS THINK ABOUT EPA CHIEF SCOTT PRUITT

WHAT ANIMALS THINK ABOUT EPA CHIEF SCOTT PRUITT

“Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is under increased White House scrutiny over his housing and travel arrangements as some of his own senior staff are expressing growing frustration with the public criticism of their boss.” — New York Times, April 5, 2018

– – –

American White Pelican
(Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
Galveston, Texas

“Scott Pruitt’s scandals at the EPA are pretty damaging, in my opinion,” said the pelican, who then resumed his attempts to extricate himself from a puddle of sludge spreading from an oil refinery that would suffer no consequences for its actions. “This is probably the worst thing he has ever done.”

Piping Plover
(Charadrius melodus)
Lake Huron, Michigan

“I find it pretty suspicious that an EPA administrator was renting an apartment for such a low price from the wife of an energy lobbyist,” noted one of the last piping plovers in the Great Lakes, hopping along the shore and searching fruitlessly for any location for a nest that wasn’t already destroyed by human activity or climate change. “And what makes me angry is that I know the real estate in D.C. is expensive. It’s just so unfair.”

Channel catfish
(Ictalurus punctatus)
Ohio River

“If you ask me, giving huge raises to your staffers without going through the normal administrative procedures is unacceptable,” said a catfish who prided herself on reading Politico every morning. “And he should have been more careful. Just look at all of the turnover there’s already been in Trump’s cabinet so far.” She then resumed her leisurely swim downstream, ingesting astronomical levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury that would be passed on to the fisherman who caught her later that day.

Polar Bear
(Ursus maritimis)
Northern Alaska

“But did he really do anything so bad?” asked a Republican-leaning polar bear on a patch of ice. “I mean, yes, he rented his apartment from the wife of an energy lobbyist. But I’m sure lots of lobbyists and government officials responsible for regulation are friends. It’s a revolving door.” At that moment, the bear heard about the EPA administrator’s travel expenses. “What the hell?” he exclaimed, as his ice broke away and started floating into the open ocean.

American Bison
(Bison bison)
Yellowstone National Park

“I personally have more issues with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. I just don’t like that guy,” opined the large land mammal before being shot by a poacher.

Wood Frog
(Lithobates sylvaticus)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“I’m so confused,” confessed the amphibian, wallowing pensively in the metallic green water of a pond near the heart of American industry. “Who’s in the government anymore? Who’s out? Will we have any stability in policy? This is what worries me most of all.” The frog had seven eyes.

Monarch butterfly
(Danaus plexippus)
Raleigh, North Carolina

“Does anything even matter?” asked a monarch butterfly, raising its wings in exasperation as it was blown off course on its annual migration by the exhaust from a vehicle that was no longer subject to fuel efficiency standards. “I’m so tired even trying to argue about it at this point. If he leaves, someone else will take his place who will have exactly the same views. It’ll look new and different, but inside it’ll be the same gross hairy caterpillar.”

Canary
(Serinus canaria)
Coal Mine, West Virginia

The canary had no opinions on any scandals at the EPA. Because it was dead.