sábado, 31 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.180

There is a bit of suspense in the air, as so many people are hoping for a big change. Can you imagine that 87.2 million people have already voted and we still have four more days until the polls close? Early voting in Texas ended today at almost on par with California, even though Texas has 10 million fewer people. California still has early voting until the day before the election, so maybe they’ll make it to 10 million early votes. 

Part of me is still feeling very cautious, as nothing is guaranteed, but the stock market is slightly down and that is usually an indicator that the incumbent will lose. These people need to be voted out of office stat! The Vice-President, who is supposed to be in charge of the pandemic task force, has not participated in a meeting for over a month. I am sure he is too busy campaigning to even care about all the people whose lives are at risk. 

sexta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2020

Sem problemas em Houston!

 Harris Country, no Texas, o condado onde fica Houston, tem estado a promover o voto. A página do Twitter é @HarrisVotes. Mais de 9 milhões de pessoas já votaram antecipadamente no Texas, o que excede o número total de votos das eleições de há quatro anos. Estou super-orgulhosa de ter vivido em Harris County.

Don't mess with Texas...


Version 2.179

Zeta made landfall in Louisiana as a category 2 hurricane: six people dead so far and almost two million without power. This was the 27th named storm this year, even though only 25 had been in the forecast. I am not sure what is up with Republican presidents and massive hurricane seasons. 

We are in the final stretch of the campaign and it is easy to feel complacent. There is still so much support for this President and I am sure today's GDP numbers serve to justify many people's vote, even though GDP is still 3.5% below what it was at the end of last year. But very few people remember past GDP numbers or understand how GDP forecasts work.

Of course, there are also people who are going to look at this and be upset because they will feel that many are better off, while they have been left behind. But what else is new? This is not a tide thay lifts all boats. If anything, this tide routinely sinks a few.

Between the stress of the election, the roaring number of cases, and my workload, I have been feeling super-stressed. My neighbor suggested that I get one of those massage gadgets, so I ordered one today on Amazon. If this thing works, it may end up saving me a ton of money.  Before the pandemic, I used to get one or two massages a month, at least. I guess my dog is well suited for me because he is also a sucker for a massage.

The thing with the economy is that we had evolved to a more labor intensive economy, with many people working in the gig economy in the area of services. This virus has destroyed many of those jobs. It’s hard to imagine when we’ll go back to normal. We still need at least nine more months to see how things are going.

quinta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.178

Anonymous no more. Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff at the Department of Homeland Security, during John Kelly's tenure as Secretary of Homeland Security, identified himself as the author of the piece that came out in The New York Times, two years ago, detailing the mess that is the Trump Presidency. He is also the author of the book "A Warning."

It is funny, but there are always these people in the United States that have this idea that you can speak truth to power. Ever since Donald Trump announced his candidacy that people have been coming forward denouncing his shortcomings, a steady drum roll of voices getting louder and louder, which will continue until he leaves office.

The idea put forth is always the same: America is better than this. The future has to be better than this. We, as a people, must come together, despite our differences, and carve a better path for the nation. There is no other way and we will keep on trying until we get it right. That is the debt that we owe those that came before us and those that will come after us.

Our inspiration are the giants on which shoulders we stand. Miles Taylor quoted Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address from a time in which the country also faced a perilous path:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
~ Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861
And Taylor concludes:
"Heed Lincoln’s words. We must return to our founding principles. We must rediscover our better angels. And we must reconcile with each other, repairing the bonds of affection that make us fellow Americans"
~ Miles Taylor, A Statement, Why I'm No Longer "Anonymous," October 28, 2020

quarta-feira, 28 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.177

The LA Dodgers just beat the Tampa Bay Rays or, as I'm thinking about it, California, the most progressive state in the federation, beat Florida, the state that gave us George W. Bush. Maybe it is a sign that the stars are aligning. We also learned today that the Trump campaign has cut some of its campaigning in Florida, shifting part of the cost to the Republican National Committee.

Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing and should continue way past the election. Many of the places that are seeing increases are full of people who do not believe that it is real. At this point, if you don't take this seriously and take precautions, you're setting yourself up for failure, but everyone has the right to make a mistake. It's just that sometimes a mistake can be the last.

terça-feira, 27 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.176

I voted Mr. Trump out today. There was hardly anyone in line, perhaps because this was a new venue that is not usually open for early voting. It is a Baptist church. Most of the people that I saw were older folks, including the lady that checked my passport. I always take my passport in case they question my citizenship, but most Americans in Memphis do not vote with a passport and sometimes they don't even know what one looks like. Anyway, I showed the lady my passport, she looked at it funny, typed in a number into an iPad -- did I mention that this was an older woman, maybe in her 70s or older? -- and then asked me for my voter registration card.

Now, the voter registration card is not required to vote, but of course I had mine: I always take mine. And sometimes I even take a utility bill to confirm my address, in case anyone questions it. It's OK, you may think I am crazy, but voting is that important to me. Of course, I don't vote in Portugal. The Portuguese government is not really interested in making it easy for me to vote. Kind of like the Trump administration does with minorities, but I digress.

The point is that I, along with over 64 million people, as of Monday evening, October 26, 2020, have voted. This is more than the early voting that took place by election day in 2016 and we still have 8 more days to go until the polls close. Granted that fewer people will likely vote on election day, but I have seen estimates that maybe 100 million people will vote early this election and overall turnout could be of 150 to 160 million. In 2016, the total number of votes was less than 139 million. It could be a massive turnout.

I cannot really express how amazing it is to live in a place where people vote en masse, when they feel the fate of the nation is at stake. Everyone can make a difference and even homeless people are voting: "My vote counts, you know what I'm saying? I ain't ever voted. This will be my first time to vote.", said a homeless man interviewed on NPR. Maybe that is the silver lining on this massive cloud that is this deadly pandemic.

For the last four years, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate majority, has been justifying the GOP actions by saying that their majority is a mandate from the electorate to push the conservative agenda. We will see how the people will mandate next, but if he loses, he can always drown in sorrows in Kentucky bourbon. After all, America is the land of opportunity and we would not want this one to go to waste.

segunda-feira, 26 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.175

My goal for tomorrow is to go vote. We are allowed to take two hours off work to vote in elections, but I don't know if the line is long and it will take more than two hours. However, I only have four more days of early voting, so I really need to get this done, as I do not wish to wait until the day of the election.

What a strange situation to have an election in the middle of a pandemic, but I suppose we should get used to things of this nature every so often. I hope the next incident is not a nuclear war, but I am not holding my breath.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the largest newspaper in Arkansas, the state that gave us Bill Clinton, is endorsing Donald Trump. The Las Vegas Review Journal and the Santa Barbara News-press also endorse him. They are all minor newspapers and they all endorsed Trump the first time around, so it is not surprising. Of the weeklies, the Jewish Voice in also on the Trump bandwagon.

People cannot claim this time around and Trump will act presidential once he's in office, so maybe that will discourage some voters. Speaking of discouragement, there is another coronavirus outbreak in the White House, this time in Vice-President Pence's office. This White House is a freaking disaster. We have never had such clueless people in office.

domingo, 25 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.174

One of my neighbors is a DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) agent. Over the last couple of days, his house has been under surveillance with at least a police officer always parked in front and there is also a huge machine that serves to film the street. At night, the machine has this blue lights that flicker and give the idea that we're about to have a rave party. I really don't understand how anyone would attack my neighbor's house with such vibrant paraphernalia parked in front of it, but maybe that is the point: to let the future perpretator know that he will likely get caught.

I don't really know that neighbor, although I have been to at least one event in which he participated. He seemed awfully young, maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. He lives with his fiancée and they were about to be married this fall, I believe. A few months ago, the post office dropped off some of their packages at my front door twice and I took them over and left them on their doorstep. I did not knock or anything, as these are not good times to be social.

His house has a sold sign now, but I don't know if that is real. If it is not real, it would be very easy for a bad guy to figure it out, since home sales are public record. Gosh, it would be terrible if anything bad were to happen to this young couple.

sábado, 24 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.173

Tomorrow's plan is to give away three books: two because I am trying to convert a friend of mine to reading poetry, so I am going to start her off with two books by Pablo Neruda, as they are bilingual and her mother tongue is Spanish. Then shall give an extra copy of a Portuguese book I have to a new friend who is Portuguese and lives in Memphis. Yes, it only took me almost 6 years to find one and the funny thing is that we have acquaintances in common. I am happy to have someone with whom to converse.

I am grateful that today was Friday and the weekend is finally upon us. This week was exceedingly tiring and there were several days in which I worked a little bit extra, which is problematic for my health. For one, I really enjoy my work and I absolutely lose track of time. I can spend hours on end sitting in front of the computer just playing with numbers. This sedentary life is bad for my mobility, but also means that my eyesight is deteriorating due to dryness. I am rather terrible about putting artifical tear drops in my eyes, since I don't really like how they feel.

As I walked into the kitchen today, I realized that I had made a huge mess. I had so many dirty cups that should've been put in the dishwasher and dirty dishes. I don't know why I was such a slob, but it's hard to be organized when you're always so eager to get back to work. But I need to get better.

The U.S. had 80 thousand positive cases of Covid-19 today, which means we are indeed having a Fall/Winter wave, as I had suspected. Most everything is running fairly well now and there has been tremendous innovation along the supply chain and how people conduct themselves in public. Maybe we will not need to have another national shutdown.

sexta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.172

We are happy to report that the second presidential debate is over. If after the first one people were surprised at what had just happened to the rules of civility, after this people will be surprised at how well Donald Trump performed. Age weighed heavily on Biden, who stumbled on his words and lost his train of thought on multiple occasions. But no harm, no foul: the Biden supporters were happy and equally happy were the Trump supporters. I was mostly disgusted for having to vote in Biden because he is clearly not surrounded by people who can train him properly.

The most jarring moment for me was when Donald Trump listed everything that had been going wrong in America: opioid addiction, suicides, etc. Trump even said that it had never been this bad. Biden did not have the clarity of thought to attack the President, to state the obvious fact that it had gotten worse under his watch and, if he did not prevent it or try to fix it in his first term, then one could hardly give him a vote of confidence to elect him for a second term.

On the Biden side, the stupidest thing of the evening was when he brought up Hitler to the debate. Godwin's law states that as an online discussion progresses, it is inevitable that someone/something will be compared to Hitler or the nazis, at which point the discussion ends. That pretty much did it for me. If he cannot weave a convincing argument without invoking Hitler, then he must have not done his homework.

For example, at some point Donald Trump was talking about how he rescued manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs are lower now than when Trump took office, even though the administration spent a pretty penny trying to subsidize companies to hire more American workers and also staring a trade dispute with China. The tariffs that were imposed on China were passed on to American consumers as higher prices, which Biden failed to state clearly.

You have to assume that most citizens don't know the intricacies of how trade and the U.S. work. They need the background information in a simple form that can be understood. That is one thing that Trump does well: he dumbs stuff down. His supporters think that it's for their benefit, but it has to be dumbed down for Trump and even then he may not fully get it. After all, he does not even know that a full time preganancy is 9 months and men don't have uterus.

According to Trump, the U.S. economy could not support the cost of $100 trillion in environmental regulation over a period of 100 years even if it had the best years of growth. In 2019, the U.S. economy grew $21.4 trillion dollars (American trillion or 10 raised to the 12th power). Trump clearly does not even comprehend how big the U.S. economy is and neither does Biden.

I don't understand how we got here. I honestly don't. It's like we're in a race to the bottom.

Segundo Debate Presidencial

quinta-feira, 22 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.171

Another day in the surrealistic Trump Republic. FLOTUS Melania Trump is not campaigning for her husband maybe because she does not enjoy it, maybe because she and their son tested positive for coronavirus, so she doesn’t feel like hanging around people. 

President Trump is being sued for defamation by a woman who alleges he raped her in the early 1990s and the Justice Department has taken over his defense. This is clearly a personal matter, but even if it were not,  the POTUS cannot be sued by defamation, thus it makes no sense for the Justice Department to defend him and yet...

Over these last few months, Trump has used government resources for his campaign, which is a violation of campaign finance law, not to mention that he benefits personally from conducting government business in his own properties, a violation of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. We know where this is going: if he survives the election, there’s plenty of options on how to impeach him again and this time the Senate is not going to save him. 

The overall sentiment is that he is unfit for the job and, at this point, he is no longer an asset for the GOP. I am sure Vice-President Pence would happily pull the rug from under the President, as he has been eager to become President himself. During the impeachment process Pence did his best to act presidential. Still, the way things are going, even if Pence pulls that off, he might end up impeached himself. 

But those are the back ups, the big hope is that Trump loses the Electoral College vote. It is certain that he will lose the popular vote. The GOP will strengthen if Biden becomes President. 

quarta-feira, 21 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.170

Portugal continues to puzzle me. The level of nonsense does not seem to wind down. And despite so many saying that they are above it all, come Election Day, the usual suspects will get elected because either people don’t vote or, the ones that do, vote for mediocrity. Mediocrity rimes with poverty and the country is well on its way to become even more impoverished than what it already is. 

Of course, this comes at a time in which the rest of Europe is also poorer, so there will be less money to waste on the folly of helping those who refuse to help themselves. Maybe Portugal will threaten to leave the EU if they don’t pay up, kind of like when Trump threatens to leave the UN, the WHO, etc. Political tantrums usually go a long way.

terça-feira, 20 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.169

I took the morning off so that I could prepare a proper breakfast and say goodbye to my friend who was visiting. I sent her home with some plants and she left with a smile on her face. A few weeks ago, when I stopped by Fayetteville, I was surprised at how quickly she decided to come visit me. 

We usually see each other at least once a year and one could say that this year has been quite remarkable, since we have been together at least three times that I can recall, plus we also saw each other over Christmas. She’s only been to my place once and the rest of the time it was me who visited. Another friend mentioned the other day that she had never known anyone who traveled as much as me. I always think that I am quite sedentary. 

The next big item on my list this week is to vote early. I have just been waiting a few days to allow for the early crowd to get out of the way. 

Jeffrey Toobin, a commentator for CNN, had what I would call a “personal maintenance incident.” He accidentally got caught on camera masturabting during a work conference call. It’s about time that something like this would happen to a famous person. I am sad that he got suspended.

segunda-feira, 19 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.168

Today was pretty much a perfect day, even though I had trouble sleeping last night because I was concerned I might not wake up in time to cook. All was good on that front: both the chai tea and the Brazilian cheese bread came out pretty good and we were able to leave on schedule to get to the marina at 12:30 PM. 

If we had custom ordered the weather, we would not have been able to pick a better day. It was warm, but not excessively hot. It was not windy, so the boat ride was rather smooth. We only saw one barge coming down stream, so there was hardly any traffic, not even leisure boats. Along the margin, we saw a couple of barges, one for grains next to a grain elevator, and one for oil. 

When we returned to the dock, the Asian carp were jumping out of the water like crazy. I’d never seen anything like it. They are large little beasts, with heads as big as my hands. Dinner was early and we chatted around two tables put together to allow for social distancing. 

One of my friends has a daughter who is an MD and she is working at one of the hospitals dealing with COVID-19. Every day, she spends about 2-3 hours talking to families, explaining why they cannot be with their loved ones and trying to provide some comfort. The last time she had a day off, she was unable to get out of bed. I suppose one would just wish the brain would shut down for a bit to provide some respite. 

Every one is talking about voting and the best way to safeguard that our vote will be counted. There is an app online that tracks each person’s vote and people can check to make sure it has been accepted. If it is rejected, people can got back and try to correct the problem. 

Still, it is entirely possible that we all live in a bubble; that this drive for change away from the current administration is more wishful thinking on our part, rather than an actual change of course. Soon enough we will know.

domingo, 18 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.167

The weekend is halfway through and much has been accomplished. We started with a fridge full of veggies and most have been cooked into soup, roasted delicata squash, roasted cauliflower, beef stew, breakfast smoothies, and avocado toast. Yesterday, we went to the Dixon, Burke’s bookstore, and finished the evening with dinner at the Alchemy—we ate at a table outdoors along the sidewalk. 

At the restaurant, the most surprising thing was that we had to check in online and give our information so that the restaurant could do contact tracing, if they needed. The menu was also online and we accessed it by taking a photo of a QR code, which was stuck to the table, with our smartphone. After dinner we picked up Julian from day camp at PetSmart Hotel. He’s still tired today, but we managed to do a portrait session with him.

We went to Palladio Garden to look at water fountains for my garden and saw quite a few ideas that looked interesting. Next weekend, they have their Christmas open house, which might be a good excuse to visit again. 

Tomorrow, we have scheduled meeting some friends for a boat ride in the Mississippi after lunch and dinner at the dock to see the sunset. Julian might need to spend the day and night at the pet hotel, since we will not be back in time to pick him up by 6:45 PM. My plan is to take hot chai and Brazilian cheese bread for dinner. For a pandemic weekend, it has not been bad at all.

sábado, 17 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.166

 My “American Mom” is visiting, so since yesterday I have been focused on being a good hostess. Today, we went to Alchemy for dinner. We were only thinking about getting drinks, but ended up ordering an appetizer, then a main course. I had duck confit and she had shrimp and grits. It was excellent, although I feel like I had enough calories for a week.

At Burke’s Bookstore, next door, I found a copy of Richard Zenith’stranslation of Pessoa’s poems, which I already have, but ended up buying because this book was better than my copy. It was a fun day, but I cannot believe how exhausted I am. Tomorrow, we do fun things again.

sexta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.165

The day was gloomy and I spent a chunk of it cooking, not really paying attention to anything else, as I was expecting company for the weekend—a first since the beginning of the pandemic. Things are getting worse quickly, as was expected, and the reproduction rate in Memphis is greater than one.

My team was planning on starting to slowly work in the office, a few people in the beginning and then the plan was to expand. It does not seem that the safety criteria are being met, so it has been delayed for now. 

I went ahead and stocked up on toilet paper and food, so I should be set for a while. Now is the most dangerous time for us, as we may have become more relaxed. Plus, it’s allergy season and the other bugs are coming out. We shall see how we fare...

quinta-feira, 15 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.164

Idealism is alive and well in America! People are enduring long lines to vote early and in person, as they do not trust that voting by mail will be problem-free, given that the President has said that there is voter fraud. The Post Office has also had a few incidents that have people questioning whether they are up to snuff. Next week, I will vote. I did not want to go first thing, but my plan is to vote early and in person. 

Today was the last day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing. She’s as good as confirmed, which will increase money donations to the Democratic Party, plus it acts as an incentive for people to vote. Once she is part of the SCOTUS, Roberts will become less of a conservative. And I have a few questions about Kavanaugh because, every once in a while, he does vote liberal, as if he’s giving the finger to his detractors. 

Well, the country is in a bit of a mess and many of these people have to pick a side because History is calling. Even William Barr’s inquiries are coming out empty-handed or being postponed until after the election, like he realizes that the President is on the way out. If Trump does lose, it will be interesting to see where a lot of these people will end up  Barr is going to enjoy retirement, but those that are of working age will have a hard time getting jobs. People are mad and they’ll boycott companies that hire them.

I would not be surprised if Trump had to declare bankruptcy again. And I also have a feeling that Ivanka Trump’s reputation and businesses will be damaged.  Neither Democrats, nor Republicans, can risk her eventually running for office and hijacking the GOP like her father did. It is more likely that the Trumps will be treated like weeds.

quarta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.163

I have a friend who always defines herself by the man she is with. And her men are always awesome, the most awesome, until one day they break up and we learn all the shitty things that they did. I hate that in more ways than one. I hate that people would do that to each other, I hate that many relationships end up and the partners are left hating each other's guts. I hate all the pain people have to go through. It just feels like such a waste of emotional energy. Anyway, shit happens an then you die--that's the condensed version of life. 

Today we made a ton of progress tearing apart the garden. The AstroTurf is out and one of the water fountains is getting disconnected. There are still lots to do and sometimes it feels overwhelming, not to mention that I question if I'll be able to implement my vision, but it was a bit stressful having to look at things the way there were. Plus, I bought two dogwoods, which will soon be shipped and I need to prepare things to accommodate them. Dogwoods are one of my favorite trees; I just love them so much that when they start blooming, I drive around town trying to find the best routes to see them.

I managed to give all the extra window curtain hardware away to one of my housekeepers, who has recently moved to a house. I had been lugging that stuff around from house to house for the longest time. I don't even remember exactly which house I had bought it for originally. I think it was in my house in Arkansas almost 10 years ago, but it did not get installed when I moved to Memphis the first time or to Houston since both houses already had hardware. I had over 10 curtain rod sets, so it was probably worth over $300. I am just happy that it is of use to someone and I don't have to deal with it anymore.

One of my next projects is to repot some of the plants that I propagated and also give them to the housekeepers. They have told me several times how much they enjoy my plants, so I would like them to have some of their own. I have accumulated too many, plus they are really easy to care for, which is perfect for beginners.

The SCOTUS decided today in favor of the Trump Administration and is allowing Census work to end about two weeks earlier than originally planned. It is assumed that the big cities, like L.A., Houston, and Seattle, will have the most to lose with this decision, but we shall see.

Another Census case is being considered by the SCOTUS, regarding whether or not to count illegal immigrants. The Constitution does not specify the nationality of the people that are to be counted toward the Census, so it will be informative to see what the SCOTUS will rule. Usually, conservative Justices are keener to hold a literal view of the Constitution.

terça-feira, 13 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.162

The big news today is Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate hearing for the SCOTUS. Since I was working, I did not get a chance to listen to it, but the little I did listen made me sad. In her opening statement, she presented herself as some sort of reincarnation of Justice Scalia, for whom she clerked. 

She already has the votes of the die-hard Republicans, so who is she trying to persuade? If the moderate Republicans were sensitive to those arguments, they wouldn't be moderate, but it is true that they vote in pack and are not expected to veer away from the GOP. Sut she would have damaged the Democrats' arguments if she had portrayed herself as an accomplished professional woman, rather than someone who is just going to carry on the work of a man that has been dead for four years.

The question of Roe v. Wade is a moot issue, as there is too much precedent already, so it is nearly impossible to overturn. Furthermore, it's not like the GOP needs to overturn Roe v. Wade to make abortions unavailable. They are already pretty hard to get legally because most abortion clinics have closed.

But it's all a show anyway. It will be interesting to see if the Senators who said that they would not vote will act as indicated. My gut feeling is that they will go ahead and vote.


segunda-feira, 12 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.161

 At the end of the day, the sun came out for a bit, as the clouds of Delta moved on, but the morning was wet. I ended up taking Julian to the pet hotel, so that he could spend the day playing with other dogs, since we could not do our usual activities. 

When I went to pick him up, I also stopped by Barnes and Noble, since I wanted to buy a Pablo Neruda book to introduce a friend of mine to poetry. I also got a Rumi book for myself. All the sections at the bookstore had been rearranged and the back of the store was full of toys. It felt strange to not have things in their usual places, but I suppose they are hoping for early Christmas shoping and toys are supposed to perform really well.

This weekend, I binge-watched two TV shows on Netflix and also read, which felt good. I had tried to do a cook-along where I learned to make vegetarian meals, but I did not feel well at all. I don’t think I can digest lentils or mushrooms because I had really uncomfortable stomach aches and I felt very bloated. I gained about 5 lbs 3-4 days, just from inflammation. And when I get out of bed in the morning, my ankles hurt. 

I will have to go to the doctor and ask if this could just be because of a reaction to food or if there is something else that could be wrong. It seems like my immune system just turned completely bonkers over the last couple of years. Comfort food these days is a baked sweet potato. I suppose it could be worse. 

domingo, 11 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.160

"This bill makes sex look like church." That's how Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah described the coronavirus legislation that is being discussed in the House of Representatives. I am glad the prudes of Congress are thinking about sex while people are going without jobs. Although their explicit rationale for not passing the legislation is their own jobs, since the GOP is concerned that they will be voted out for spending so much money. I actually think that they are trying to lose the election on purpose because they don't want to deal with the big mess that they created. Good for them...

During the day, we hosted the remnants of Hurricane Delta, so lots of rain and some wind. I was surprised by how little coverage it got, given that it made landfall in Louisiana, so it could've been serious for New Orleans; however, the storm moved on pretty quickly, so that was a good thing. Obviously, one person who did not give a hoot was the President. I can't believe people in the affected areas vote for him, but they do, so I guess they got what they deserve.

We are 25 days away from the election and, next week, we will be able to vote early and in person in TN. I will wait a few days and do so, as I want to avoid the early crowds. Five days ago, more than 4 million people had already voted, which compares to 75 thousand early votes by that time in 2016. I think that we will have record participation this year, which just shows you that despite all the craziness that Americans endure, they also understand that, if the country is not doing well, it is because of who got elected, so if they want a different outcome, they need to vote accordingly.

Trump may win the election because of the Electoral College, but one cannot say that this President is popular or that he has the support of the majority of the people. He is one of the most unpopular Presidents, as the American people has shown over and over again in public demonstrations, some of which having broken participation records. Democracy is alive and well these days and people will continue working until he is brought down.  


sábado, 10 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.159

President Trump had a tantrum and refused to participate in the next debate, which would have been held virtually. As such, it was cancelled. Whoever thought that Donald Trump was a political genius has been proven wrong. If he had been said genius, he would have played the part: smiled for the cameras and let things move along. As such, he would've garnered the praise of many people on the left, center, and the Rockefeller Republicans, besides his original base. Instead, he acted like an elephant in a china shop.  

The only thing that can give him a win is the Electoral College, but I would not rule out that some Electors may just vote with their conscience, rather than the will of the majority in the state they represent. After all, the point of the Electoral College is to weaken the tyranny of the majority.

On Friday, Ian Bremmer, the President and Founder of the Eurasia Group, has a really nice review of major events for the week. In today's newsletter, he had an interview with the Greek Prime Minister, who seems to be a very impressive man and quite well spoken and in control. I am happy that Greece is managing the pandemic well: they deserve a break. Other countries should be so lucky. 

sexta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.158

The dominoes are falling. The Drudge report no longer supports Trump and has joined the Biden bandwagon. One of the masterminds behind an important QAnon website has been identified as Jason Gelinas and has been fired from Citigroup where he was a  Senior Vice-President. 

Today, news came out that 13 people have been arrested in connection to a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, who is a Democrat, and take over the state government. 

Little by little, until election day, the machine that supports Trump will be dismantled. It will not be completely eliminated, but it will be weakened in the short term and it will take a while for people behind it to reorganize.

The talk of the town today was the fly that landed on Vice-President Pence during yesterday's debate. He seemed completely unaware of it, but people don't know if he did not realize it or if his poker face is that good. 

I wonder what tomorrow will bring us...

quinta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.157

 We are through the only vice-presidential debate of the season. Kamala won on content, Pence won on demeanor. Nobody changed their mind after watching this, of course. The best part of the evening was when one of the commentators on PBS described Mike Pence’s style as “syrupy politeness,” which is quite apt. This is the type of guy who can convince you you’re looking at the sun, when in actuality it’s midnight and you’re staring at the moon. He’s very good at playing to the emotional system, instead of the rational. 

Kamala was good enough and did her job. She could’ve been better, but it is hard to be in her position. 

Debate Vice-Presidencial

quarta-feira, 7 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.156

It is not lost on me that what seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back that is the Trump Presidency is a direct consequence of the death of RBG. In his haste to add insult to injury, Trump saw images of President Clinton's announcement of RBG's nomination and decided he wanted the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to look just like it, so he had the Rose Garden decorated in the same manner. Of course, it had to have a big audience because the size of the crowd matters. And that is how you end up with a Presidential event in which at least 23 people are infected, including a Coast Guard Admiral, which triggered senior military officials to quarantine themselves. 

Twelve years ago, we were living under the same kind of stress as the economy collapsed under the weight of the subprime crisis. Come to think of it, we are already October, so we may even see another stock market crash. The 2008 one took place on Sept. 29, so that's how we spent that election campaign. The Bush Administration was completely overwhelmed. Four days before the crash, Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, kneeled down in front of the then, and now, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to ask her to help Congress pass TARP. The Wall Street Journal called it a moment of levity, but it sure did not feel that way.

After the 2008 election, the Bush Administration entertained the thought of Obama's inauguration taking place before January 20, 2009. Instead, they got their ducks in a row and trained the Obama folks as well as they could to make sure they could hit the floor running. Obama was so impressed with how organized the transition from the previous administration had been that he ordered his administration to leave everything just as good for the Trump administration to take over. What a waste of effort. 

If Trump does leave office, he will do so without a transition plan. If he wins the election, his lunacy will be emboldened. Either he'll be impeached or they'll use the 25th Amendment and take him out. Of course that assumes that he survives; we still have a few weeks to go to see how he fares. It does not seem like he'll have access to a Portuguese nurse, though. I'm sure MRS is very disappointed. 

terça-feira, 6 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.155

The President is back in the White House, sick, but back and has removed his mask to show what a great guy he is. I was talking to someone who's in DC and was told that early in the day, there had been talk of using Tuberculosis legislation to keep the President in the hospital, since it would be considered a precedent for infectious diseases and, if there is a people that loves precedent and protocol, that would be the American people, pre-Trump, that is. I guess that plan went the way of good intentions: to hell.

We are in the middle of one of the greatest failures in U.S. national security. Not only is the President ill, but several of the White House staff are also infected. If the country were to experience a terrorist attack, we'd be adrift at sea. History will not look kindly upon our times.

From here I believe there are two outcomes that are likely: the President gets worse or the President decides that he will carry on with his campaign, coronavirus be damned. It does not seem like he will be abiding by doctor's orders, nor will he change his behavior. The reason why all of these White House folks got ill was that he made fun of people who wore masks in the White House. 

How can a germaphobe be so lackadaisical about coronavirus? It is mind boggling.


segunda-feira, 5 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.154

 The insanity of it all! Mr. Trump is the center of attention, as he tries to be as much as he can. All the news are about how serious his condition is and reporters try to get the next big scoop. It's almost like American media is becoming British, but when you have a White House that coined the term "alternative facts," what indeed is the correct course of action? After all, the American people deserve to know, especially on the eve of the election.

One does not fail to see the irony: while we are concerned about a 74 year old man, the other candidate is 77 and will be turning 78, 17 days after the election. What a disaster! But, then again, it's been a while since we've had a President die while in office, thus we are due for one. Both candidates do look ripe for the picking.

At this point in the game, we should be a little bit more informed about the policies each one has to offer, but who is writing about that? One of the hot topics of the day is conspiracy theories. I have a feeling that the reason why they are so popular now is how easy they are to spread online; but I suppose that when the TV showed up conspiracy theories' popularity increased. If I had to guess, I'd say that the same thing must happened when more people started to read and write.

domingo, 4 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.153

Last night, for some odd reason, I was extremely tired at 9:30 PM, so nearly asleep as I wrote my last post -- not that that is a first, being nearly asleep, that is, but the early hour was puzzling. One might call my day productive, but mostly I just thought about things, especially the state of our current affairs. 

I have often described Donald Trump as President as an accelerator of change. It is clear that many of the things that have happened had been brewing for quite some time, but he just created the conditions for them to fully ripen, such as the Me Too and the Black Lives Matter movements. 

People will tolerate many things if they feel that we are making progress, but if things start to look like they are moving back, Americans will rebel. The whole concept of being American revolves around the notion that each of us have a chance at helping build a better country. Movies, books, education, art, everything is geared toward the idea that one person can make a difference. 

Trump being the one person that could make a difference is how he managed to get such a great following, but his goal is to take America back to a period of greatness and that is where the ideology starts to fall apart. The best of American is not in the past; it has to be in the future because that is when a perfect union can be attained. As such, Trump and his ideology will eventually be defeated. 

At this point it does not seem like he can govern another term. Now that the federal stimulus has ended, and companies are beginning to lay off, people will not be as understanding. The GOP has lost control of the message, there is actually no message. It used to be that they stood for smaller government, but with the costs of the trade war and the pandemic, not only does the government have a bigger weight on the economy, but the tax cuts that were passed were not enough to pay for themselves, so public debt is increasing very quickly. All that is left is a social ideology that is at odds with the country.

The Trump presidency is also quite problematic for the GOP. Trump never finished hiring all the usual staff for the administration and many of the ones that he did hire were not from the party, but from his pool of personal friends. This means that if Biden wins, it will be at least four more years until the GOP can staff an administration, but if Trump wins, it will be at least eight more years or even 12. This means that Republicans will not have anyone who knows how to run government and the outcome is worse with Trump than with Biden. The last normal government that the GOP had was George W. Bush from 2001 until 2008. 

If Trump loses, the GOP has a chance of presenting a normal candidate in four years and winning the Presidency, especially since Biden is very old. If Trump wins, the likely outcome will be an impeachment, but Trump will not go quietly, plus Pence would have to govern with a Democratic VP. It would be a rather weak position for the GOP and they'd likely lose the next Presidential election four years from now. 


sábado, 3 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.152

 A few minutes after I woke up, I checked my phone and it was full of notifications regarding President Trump's Coronavirus test. For someone who is a germaphobe, he sure managed to steer away from the virus until one month before the election. If it is true, and I do have some doubts, the one thing that popped into my head was "Bem feita!" I thought that it was pretty good that my reaction was in Portuguese. 

None of my Trump supporter friends have said anything about it to me, but I shall not be broaching the subject with them. Even the debate, I did not initiate conversation or even mention it, but they were pretty appalled and let me know. What is there left to be appalling? I think we've broken all the barriers and are now completely bare, to the bone naked. 

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, until the election, all we are going to hear about is the health of the President. If we count the last campaign, we have been putting up with Trump tantrums for over four years. The media should just make a vow to ignore him for two weeks. Let him rest, let us rest before the great confrontation.

On that note, I am happy that it's the weekend and I get to do some more deconstruction in the garden. Today was nice, so I managed to lift all the gladioli bulbs. I also made a list of all the plants I'd like to buy and their characteristics, so that I could see how many things would be blooming at any given time. I think I have late winter to early fall covered, so that should be about eight months. 



sexta-feira, 2 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.151

 "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." ~ Leo Tolstoy

The opening of Anna Karenina got into my head for some odd reason and I have been thinking about it very much recently, even though I have never read the book. To be honest, the size of the book is very intimidating and the way I handle failure is that I only try things at which I do not know whether I will fail, thus I actively avoid things that I know will lead to failure. Life is too short, as are Chekhov's short stories.

Happiness has never been something that I valued and it is certainly something that I try not to think about, preferably ever. My mother often asked herself out loud why was it that she couldn't be happy and seeing someone so unhappy, while trying to be so damned happy just completely did it for me. However, I often find myself considering my own personal relationship with happiness, if not for the silly reason that my friends often tell me that I deserve to be happy and they seem to know exactly what it is that would make me happy, which is often the one thing that they believe makes them happy. 

"Deserve to be happy" is one of my pet peeves. Why would anyone be that entitled when there is so much pain and misery all over the world? Still, I cannot deny that I am actually quite happy. I don't know if that makes me just like all the other happy folks out there, in the guise of the Anna Karenina Principle, but it is true that for the most part I do not feel like I am lacking something or, better yet, I relish in the things that I do lack.


quinta-feira, 1 de outubro de 2020

Version 2.150

We woke up this morning to an overall sense of impending doom come election day. I suppose many people finally realized that Biden does not have the chutzpah to be the comeback kid the way he did in the Democratic primaries. Of course, nobody was swayed either way by the debate; everyone pretty much knows for whom they will be voting, as both candidates are known quantities. 

One thing was interesting, though. I spoke to some of my friends who are Trump supporters and they were not happy with how the debate had gone, which is odd, since Trump was so dominant. I have a feeling that some of these people want to vote for Trump, but don't want Trump to win -- they want to be able to say "If Trump had been elected, we'd be in a much better place..." Well, Trump has been elected once and one cannot say we are in a much better place. 

Thousands of layoffs were announced today and higher paid workers are the targets. Granted that many of these people have been saving money, but the job market isn't that great. One of my friends in Houston got laid off six months ago and he is still looking for a job. Another one had taken an exit package from his job in New York right around the beginning of the pandemic and ended up going back to work for his dad in the family farm. If there is one thing that gets to the American psyche, it is high unemployment. The longer things stay unclear, the most demoralized people will get.