The world and our country are getting scarier.

I, like many of you, am wrestling with the events that are unfolding daily from the White House.  There has not been a day in recent months that the President failed to do something that created unrest in some part of society.  I find myself turning on the news in the morning to find out what has transpired since the previous evening.  More precisely, what has Trump done or tweeted to rock somebody’s world.  I have observed many presidents with no recollection of any president acting in this chaotic manner.  It would appear that Trump’s goal is to create a reality TV environment that keeps everyone focused on him.  We are in a new age of idiocy where anything is acceptable, there are few boundaries and our president appears willing to pass over these boundaries with little concern of the consequence.

This is Friday, August 25, when I am writing this, and today we are watching the removal of Steve Bannon, executive advisor to the President, who many believe to be a racist, nationalist and deconstructionist.  In case you are not familiar with the term deconstructionist, it means he wants to deconstruct the federal government back about a hundred years or so.  He envisions the government the way it was before cars and electricity.  His removal from the White House is partly in response to the events in Charlottesville, VA and the President’s ridiculous racist remarks afterwards.  It is hard to understand why Bannon was even brought into the White House in the first place.  According to some reports there are several others in this administration who have connections to these viscous hate groups!

What scares me to the core is the large portion of the population who doggedly hold on to their vision of Trump as a leader capable of fixing the many problems this country has.  It seems in their eyes, he can do no wrong, which is the same kind of thinking that has led to the ruin of many countries currently and in the past.  The fact is he can do no right.  His one accomplishment was the selection of a Supreme Court Justice.  Other than that, he has done little more that write proclamations which have no legal teeth at all!The one idea that I share with the Trump supporters is that this country needs a serious reboot before it is too late.  The problem is, we chose the wrong individual for the job.  Granted there were no clear alternative choices but this was the worst possible choice we could have made!  He is seriously deranged due to his life of wealth and his freedom to do what he wants, when he wants, since he was a child .

I am seriously afraid of what might transpire during his tenure in office. Yes, I was concerned with Reagan and worried about George W. Bush.  But even though I disagreed with the many things that they did, I did not consider them deranged or a sociopath.  The political, as well as the natural world is in a delicate balance even in good times but today’s world is hanging by a thread in both areas.  Whether you disagree or agree with what president Obama did, he was a stable force in the world.  He never picked fights with people or countries.  He never abused his power as president.  He never incited large groups to solve their problems with violence.  He never spoke rudely of fellow politicians in public.  He never allowed white supremacists to work in the White House.  He avoided as much as possible sending our young men off to die in foreign countries.  He never insulted the women of our country with obscene comments.  This current buffoon in the White House has done just about anything he can think of to denigrate the office of president.  It is time for his removal from the White House before something serious happens!

If you share my feelings on this subject, I hope you contact your representatives in Washington DC and let them know what you think!  We are experiencing a real test of our democracy and it is important that everyone let their representatives know what they think!

 

 

 

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We should have known better.

I attended the Democratic Convention back in June of 2016 and listened to Mr. Justice tell a story of why he changed from a Republican to a Democrat.  It was a moving story about coming across a women and a child selling a few personal belongings so they would have money to buy food.  Being the billionaire he is he reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 bill, gave it to the lady and took the tackle box.  He brought this tackle box to the convention as a prop while telling his moving story.  He went on to tell us that seeing the women selling her personal items moved him so deeply he decide to change his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat and run for governor of West Virginia so he could stamp out poverty and hunger in West Virginia.  Somehow his story did not ring true when I first heard it and now that he is changing his colors from blue to red I believe that he probably made it up to placate us gullible Democrats. I hope the voters of West Virginia are as angry about this change as I am.  I think it is almost funny that he announced this change of heart on the day of president Orange face’s visit to West Virginia!  I guess if you are the only billionaire in the state you can do whatever and whenever you want.

As far as it goes for the governing of our state, I guess it could not get any worst!    I guess a wolf in Sheep’s clothing is what we are going to have to live with for the next 3 1/2 years. With the current chaos in Washington I figure Justice decided he wanted to make some headlines himself.  I did a little research and was able to find just two governors who switched from one party to another while in office, Buddy Roemer, 1988-1992 and Jessie Ventura, 1999-2003.  Justice has entered into a very elite and small group of politicians.  It seems that our state is always making the national news for negative reasons.  Go figure…

How crazy can this get?

 

I have been keeping watch on the current political chaos and I am in awe of the level of craziness that has become everyday news.  It was almost unbelievable when the president fired the FBI director, who happens to be a staunch Republican.  Compound this insanity with the hiring of his friend Anthony Scaramucci to head the White House communications department resulting in the resigning of his loyal lap-dog, Sean Spicer.  Now, it appears that he is trying to pressure his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to resign so he can place someone in the position to remove Robert Mueller from the investigation of Russian involvement in the recent elections.  Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus resigned to be replaced by John Kelly and his first action is to fire Scaramucci!

I do not consider myself the most knowledgeable person when it comes to politics, but this current scenario seems like a poorly written soap opera!  Lindsey Graham, who may be one of the most powerful people in congress, told the president to not take any actions against the Attorney General!  His statement that, “this could be the beginning of the end for the Trump presidency”, is the most forceful comment any Republican lawmaker has made!

Folks, this is one of the most comprehensive tests of our country, constitution and politics since the beginning of America.  We have, for all intent and purposes, placed a mad man in the oval office capable of things we can only imagine.  This will test our resolve as a country and a people.  Our constitution was designed to be able to ward off this kind of situation and there is a fair chance that before this is over, all branches of government will be tested.  We should all fasten our seatbelts and get ready for what should continue to be a very bumpy ride.

Now a couple of things to consider, if congress is able to remove Trump from office and Pence manages to stay clean, it’s a win-win situation for the Republicans as Pence will take over the oval office and the orange crazy man will go back to firing people on a reality show.  If Pence is drug into the mess and is also removed from office, the job goes to the Speaker of the House, who is currently Paul Ryan.  If this occurs before the midterm election, regardless of what happens, a Republican will become president in the form of Pence or Ryan.  If the Democrats are able to drag their feet long enough in the impeachment process, so as to reach the midterm, then they have a chance of taking control of the House and the Speaker of the House becomes third in line to the president.  This is by far the best chance for the Democrats to move into the Oval Office.

Either way, this is going to be a wild and crazy time for America.  I am sure the Russians will sit back and laugh quietly knowing that they were partially responsible for the current chaos that has enveloped our nation.  This is their game, the long game, sitting quietly in the weeds like a Florida gator until it is time to seize its prey.  Make no mistake, Putin and his henchmen are playing a dangerous game and the next move is ours.  I hope we have the collective wisdom to make the right move.

Now if you really want to lose some sleep, click on the following link and read about the privileges that the presidency has and how Trump can literally take full control in the form of a dictator and take away all our rights.  This is real!  When I first heard this I thought it was some more fake news but with a little research I realized it is real!

https://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=364×43235

The boogie man is going to get you!

I remember working at a boy’s camp where we had a problem with the boys leaving their shoes all over the place.  The solution to this problem was to tell the campers that there was a boogie man by the name of THE JERSEY DEVIL who prowled around camp at night stealing shoes and taking any camper who dared to venture out of their cabin.  This worked quite well to take care of the shoe problem, so well that some kids would pee their bed to avoid leaving the cabin!  That’s not good!  Somehow our culture has taken the path of peeing in the bed instead of leaving the cabin and finding out that there really is no boogie man.  One of our biggest fears is crime.  How many of you know that crime has been decreasing since somewhere around 1990. Almost every measurable crime statistic has dropped since 18 years after Roe v Wade in 1972, but that is another discussion.  The problem is a media that reports every situation that occurs around the world, so that they can cram it into a news show with video and interviews and 27 8×10 glossy photographs!  Of course there are murders, of course there are other crimes, a small portion of humans have no problem doing these things.  The problem is with the immense amount of information we are inundated with is staggering.  Statistically we will not be murdered, our houses will not be broken into, our cars will not be stolen (unless you own a very expensive car)  and the chances of being involved in a terrorist attack are almost non-existent! THAT DOES NOT MEAN STUFF WILL NEVER HAPPEN, but the chances of any of these things happening to us is very small.

The following link is loaded with data on our chances of being involved in a crime.  It points out some rather obvious facts about crime.  In short, if you go to, or live in rough places, hang out with suspect people or just make dumb decisions, your chances of being in a crime are much much higher.  Well duh… The data boils down to your chances of being in a crime are about 2% overall.  That is an all-inclusive number which groups the almost zero chance of being in a crime with the absolute boneheads who constantly put themselves in crime’s backyard.  You probably should glance at this data just to make sure you are not doing some dumb things that put you in harm’s way.

http://www.crimeinamerica.net/2010/12/13/what-are-my-chances-of-being-a-victim-of-violent-crime/

I guess the point of this article is to help people understand that YOU CANNOT LIVE IN A BUBBLE!  When I would discuss this issue with my students, I would tell them that they should consider some of the real threats that face our planet, like earthquakes, or plagues, or meteor impacts, or cosmic events like a black hole within 50 light years of earth, or the warming ocean spewing out methane and destroying our air, or just general pollution of our environment causing who knows what kind of problems!

Life is a gift to all of us and it would be a shame to spend its entirety worrying about every possible catastrophe that could happen.  Should I go skiing, I might break my leg or should I ride my bike, I might get hit by a car, or maybe I should stay indoors so I never get any sun.  Where does it stop?!  I wrote this once before, SHIT HAPPENS!  There is no way you can anticipate everything that can happen, you can only weigh the choices and the risk and make a decision.  Remember, life was meant to be lived, not sheltered just to stay alive.  There is little use in being alive if there is not a little challenge.  Sure, as we get older certain activities become increasingly risky but that is when you have to adjust your decision-making so that you can do other things.

To wrap this up I want to emphasize my main point.  News media is about ratings.  The more people who watch their shows, the more money they make, it is that simple!  The way to make you watch these shows is to convince you that your survival is based on staying tuned in.  Fear is the driving force behind most news.  The next time you watch a news show, make a mental note of everything they say that is based on fear of something.  You will be surprised at your findings.

One final point a little off topic.  The young people in our country are generally restless.  Violence in youth and drug use seem to be on the rise. Maybe the rebelliousness of youth in general is reacting to this constant onslaught of fear based media.  By its nature, adolescence usually does not react properly to fearful situations.  Just thought I would throw that in.  I need to spend some more time contemplating this idea.  I would love to hear what some of you think about this or any issue I write about.

 

My pot holes are filled!

Call it the power of the pen, God’s divine wisdom, luck or just plain random events, Martinsburg Grade Rd has been patched!

Today’s ride was much less eventful with no near fatal crashes due to potholes.

Thank you someone.

Now we need to talk about Ed Arnold Rd and Bear Wallow Rd!

Riding my bicycle on our lovely Hampshire County state roads

Yeah, the scenery is often wonderful but most of the time during my 9 mile trek I have to keep my eyes on the road for fear of hitting one of the gargantuan potholes that inhabit our back roads.  I would love to watch the trees zoom by and the beautiful green hills all around but noooo, I can’t, because the minute I take my eyes off the road I risk hitting one of the canyons in the road and possibly dying!

I have decided to make a pictorial of my bike journey on Ed Arnold Road, Martinsburg Grade Road, Bear Wallow Road and finally Ed Arnold Road.  The trip is about 9.3 miles and requires lots of steep climbs and exhilarating downhills, which are lots of fun, when you are not dodging potholes.  It generally takes anywhere from 38 minutes to 45 minutes depending on what kind of physical condition I am in.  For the last several months I have been attempting to ride the loop, but the condition of the roads is deplorable! I have decided to take pictures of the road so that you can see what challenges lie for travelers on the back roads of Hampshire County.

I start out on Ed Arnold Rd which is bumpy but somewhat rideable.  Here is the first trench I must navigate around.

As I continue on Ed Arnold Rd the holes get bigger.

And bigger….

And deeper….

And more extensive….

And wider….

and scarier….

Do you think that might take out a ball joint?

Hard to get around this one.

I need a wider angle lens to take these scenes.

After leaving Ed Arnold Road I travel up the mountain on Martinsburg grade which , for some reason, has been patched.  Then I turn onto Bear Wallow for some real hole-dodging.

and….

And….

Just a few more….

and the final hole for the day.

What is really crazy is that I wasted several hours of time taking these pictures, downloading them and putting them together for the worst blog in the history of blogging!  Being a bike rider in West Virginia is hard enough with the narrow roads and sometimes unfriendly drivers, but some of our roads are not even safe for a slow moving car, let alone a fast moving bike! Well, I have wasted enough of your time as well as mine.  If you know someone who has any authority on road maintenance, please forward this to them and you may save the life of a biker.

Apologies

Cosmic Charley has not left the county, which may cause some folks remorse.  I am still here and must apologize to my three readers for not writing much lately.  It’s summer and it is hard to sit in front of this terminal and not be outside working on projects or riding my bike.  I will return soon with more useless dribble to occupy your time and new PODCAST to listen to.  I saw Sally See, from the Hampshire Review, my sponsoring newspaper, in the Food Lion the other day and asked her if she listened to my new PODCAST and she said no, I was heartbroken!  Don’t worry, I will recover from that.  I must admit it is hard not writing, with President Meathead providing so much amazing, funny and scary material to write about, so I will be back soon.  I hope you all are having as fantastic a summer as I am!

Shalom

I think the Federal budget can be balanced

 

If you would rather listen to my charmingly delightful voice rather than read it, you can click on the following link.

 

This seems like a no-brainer to me: if there is one thing this country needs to do as soon as possible, it is balance the budget!  Unless we want to end up like Greece and many other countries, this needs to happen now.   We all know what happens to us personally if we continue to spend more money than we have.  There are three basic things that must be done to balance the budget without taking away essential programs from the needy.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Everyone talks about how social security is going to implode in about 20 years.  This is the easiest of all our problems; raise the taxable social security amount a whole bunch, say to a million dollars.  Us middle class folks are the backs the rich stood on to make their fortunes, why can’t they pay a little more?  Last time I checked the maximum salary to contribute to social security is $117,000, everything made over that amount is social security tax-free.  Change that!

MILITARY

Reduce the military budget by a mere 10%.  You could even do it over a couple of year period so as not to impact the economy too severely. That would amount to $60,000,000,000 (that’s billion).  Do you know that 20% of every dollar we pay in taxes goes to the military, of which 4% is spent on veterans from our many conflicts?  And that is just the part that shows up in the budget.  No wonder there is little money left for education or roads or most everything!  Does that seem nuts to you?  It does to me.  According to a survey done in 2015 by Ashley Kirk, with The Telegraph, we spend more than the next 10 civilized countries added up!  There is no doubt that we need to remain a strong military force on the planet but at what point does this become absurd!  If you look at the chart you can see how crazy it is.

 

The world’s 25 largest defense budgets

Country Defense budget
United States 569.3
China 190.9
United Kingdom 66.5
Russia 53.2
France 52.7
India 49.7
Japan 49.3
Saudi Arabia 46.3
Germany 43.8
South Korea 35.7
Australia 34.3
Brazil 30.7
Italy 29.0
Canada 17.2
Turkey 15.9
Israel 15.6
United Arab Emirates 14.7
Taiwan 14.5
Spain 13.9
Algeria 12.4
Poland 12.2
Netherlands 10.6
Singapore 10.4
Pakistan 10.3
Iraq 10.3