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Audio Tidbit blogging

No Hotdogs or Apple Pie

I am sad to hear that President Trump will be leading those who choose to celebrate Independence Day with a show of tanks and military air might. Instead of hotdogs, baseball and apple pie, we are representing our national pride by proclaiming to the world that our defensive and perhaps aggressive power is up to any challenge. Instead of wrapping our national pride in freedom and democracy, it is being symbolized by our biggest guns and fastest planes. Instead of a celebration to confirm and reassure, it is a message to reinforce the possibility if not the probability of war, a message to promote fear and trepidation. It is a bit like replacing Thanksgiving with a day of preparation.

Unfortunately, Erma Bombeck no longer has it right. Her gentle picture is just not there when the view is through President Trump’s eyes. “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

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I Believed

I am reluctantly considering the conclusion that much of what I have believed for as long as I have believed anything may represent far more hope than truth. Sure, I admit to taking it for granted that things actually are the way I have always thought they are, that my reality is valid and based on the true and factual, and that my sense of what’s real is correct and axiomatic. Naive? Simple-minded? Perhaps dangerous? Indeed. But nonetheless, I believed.

I take some comfort in knowing that a preference for belief over thoughtful consideration didn’t just start with me. The Roman philosopher Seneca observed that “Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.” It’s likely that the “exercise” part of exercising judgment is the showstopper for many, if not most of us. For me at least, it has been easier to relax and believe.

Robert Brault got it right when he pointed out that “An old belief is like an old shoe. We so value its comfort that we fail to notice the hole in it.” To my surprise and disappointment, I am starting to notice cracks if not actual holes in some of my most trusted beliefs. The cause and solution may be as simple as E D Martin suggests, “It is easier to believe than to doubt.”

Laziness? Indifference? Bertrand Russell says it’s our inherent credulity. “Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.” Perhaps I should add gullibility to lazy and naive. The picture is not looking good.

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Audio Tidbit blogging

Tweets vs. Action

According to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, they believe actions speak louder than tweets. I don’t know the context for their mentioning this, but I definitely agree. How about you?

I will leave you to your own speculation about who or what comes to mind when the subject of tweets comes up. I only caution you to avoid conflating tweeting with doing, tweeting with thoughtful discourse, tweeting with reality.

Although tweets and tweeting are fairly recent innovations, the idea of communicating through compact pronouncements is not. Let’s try a few examples that would have worked quite well as tweets, had the option been available at the time. I have picked out examples that may have best been directed to today’s most prolific tweeters. May I suggest that you focus on a specific tweeter, if one comes to mind. That will help when considering the fit between tweets and action, as KLM suggested.

#JohnLocke “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

#BenjaminFranklin “Well done is better than well said.”

#AlfredAdler “Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.”

#HenryJKaiser “If your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

#AndrewCarnegie “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

#LewisCass “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.”

And of course, a good tweet session would hardly be complete without some old wisdom that comes from #Me “When all is said and done, don’t turn out to be the one for whom much is said but little is done.; for if your action can’t speak for its self, more tweets won’t do much to make your case.”

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Tariff or Tax

The air is thick with tariffs, or is it? We hear about more and more tariffs and tougher and tougher negotiations. But is that the truth of it, the bottom line? I think not. I suspect the truer story is more and more taxes on each of us. That’s the real negotiating strategy. Press play and come to your own conclusion.

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Audio Tidbit blogging

The President Promised

Last year, I shared on PPOV.net an excerpt from a speech given by President Trump that focused on the promises he made to all of us. I think it is worth re-publishing for your consideration.

Mr. President, I have just again listened to your victory speech from 2016 from the night you learned that you were the President-elect. You said some very hopeful things in that speech and let us know that you had great plans for our country. You said a couple of things that I think need revisited. You seemed to have promised more than you are delivering, more than you seem to have any intention to deliver. Maybe its just too much to expect, but I think you and I should chat about it.

Okay, I know that’s not going to happen. You are way too busy to have little chats with retired liberals in Ohio. Since I’m not likely to be able to share my concerns with you, I am sharing them with my listeners. If you happen to have a few minutes to listen, just press play and we can pick that bone together.

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Political Bridge Burning

For the past few posts, our focus has been on the southern border with Mexico. You may think that the kerfuffle is all about border security, but that interpretation doesn’t hold up very well. Both President Trump and the opposition publicly agree that enhanced border security is important and would be a worthy outcome. So, what is the issue?

Is it the cost? Probably not. Both sides agree that appropriating funds for enhanced border security is necessary. Yes, they are apart on how much funding, but the difference is only thirty seconds or so of the total cost of operating the Federal government. That doesn’t seem like enough difference to justify major disruption in the lives of nearly a million Federal workers and related non-government employment, along with the disruption in government services and responsibilities. The negative effect of the stalemate is just too far out of proportion to the funding gap.

In months past, President Trump proclaimed that the cost was neither an issue nor going to be an issue. Mexico would be paying for the needed enhanced security. Now, that pipedream has faded, and both sides agree that it will be paid for by our Federal government. Even so, the cost is not the cause of the kerfuffle.

Both sides appear to be digging in over a wall versus no wall. It also seems unlikely that this is at the heart of the impasse. The two-thousand-mile border, (the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles,) likely needs a wall or at least a better fence along some stretches but building a wall that stretches uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico is likely not even possible. At least part of it would need to be secured with electronic detection and drones. Even were it possible, building the wall would probably take many years. It would not enhance security much for quite some time.

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Closing California

It seems as if there was once a time when the right and good, the moral and just were guiding principles for the United States. It may be that it was never as true as it appeared, but at least it seemed as if it were truer than not. That may be little more than wishful nostalgia, more fantasy than reality. Even so, it’s easy to consider the daily news and conclude that morality and ethics have nothing to do with how decisions are made, how resources are distributed, how the public’s business is conducted.

Let’s play a little mind game. It’s sort of like playing musical chairs. The population of all of Central America is only slightly more than the population of California: about forty million. Let’s suppose that people concluded that California is no longer a fit place to stay and raise a family. Staying is just not possible. Let’s further assume that the only reasonable decision is to close California. The migration into the rest of the United States would be extremely disruptive for a while; but if we look ahead five years, the population of California would be absorbed, and life would go on.

Okay, closing all of California may be a bit excessive. Let’s suppose that It’s only necessary to close Berkeley. Now we only need to assimilate about one hundred and twenty thousand people. That sounds a lot more manageable. It may be that none of them has to actually leave California.

Sure, we’re back to discussing the border with Mexico. That’s the border that is about the same distance as it is from Chicago to Los Angeles. President Trump is threatening to close the border, letting no one into the United States by way of that border. His only announced goal that I have heard is to prevent an influx of criminals and hooligans. But here is the problem with that. The current border policy is probably reducing but not eliminating the influx of criminals and hooligans. That would be a good thing were it not for the reality that it is also preventing thousands of law-abiding adults and children from peacefully entering the United States.

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Politicians Playing King-of-the-Hill

You likely heard that the Federal government is partially shut-down. It’s not like a private company shutting down part of its operation and laying off some of its employees. For those employees, it’s no job, no pay. For the Federal employees who are off work for now, it’s no job but you most likely get paid later.

It’s not so harm-free for private contractors and all of the businesses who depend on the thousands of Federal employees to shop and buy. The point is that the partial government shut-down is causing real problems for thousands of real people.

All of those Federal employees who are off work had real jobs and provided real services that many people, businesses and organizations depend on to function. The result of the partial government shut-down is that there is major disruption that is seriously interfering with the economic and transactional life of the country. And the longer the partial shut-down continues, the more harmful the disruption.

Why is the Federal government partially shut-down? That’s an easy question to answer. It’s a tried-and-true negotiating strategy. President Trump wants to build a wall long enough to run from Chicago to Los Angeles but built along the border with Mexico. The final cost of his wall would likely be ten million dollars a mile, but a less expensive wall might be acceptable. Maybe two and a half million dollars a mile would work for him. We can call that solution 1.

The opposition will not agree to the wall but may be fine with a technological barrier that is yet to be clearly explained. We don’t know how much that type of barrier would cost but it would presumably be less than two and a half million dollars a mile. We can call that solution 2.

As we see, both sides agree that some type of enhanced barrier should be put in place. The Federal government is shut down because the two sides can’t agree about the type of barrier and how much it should cost. There is no disagreement about the need for an enhanced barrier nor that it will be expensive. How expensive? It will cost about as much as it costs to fund the Federal government for thirty seconds. President Trump wants about forty-five seconds and the opposition is offering only fifteen. The Federal government is partially shut-down over about thirty seconds of disputed funding.

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Snake Oil and Border Security

I have been trying to avoid spending any time thinking about politics, economics and the current state of things in the United States. Despite my sincere effort, I keep drifting back into the morass of commentators and politicians. It makes me wonder about how any of us can distinguish the true from the fake, the actual from snake oil.

My thought process seems to be more than random but less than objective. I am somehow pulled and pushed in ways that are confusing and hard to track. The border with Mexico is a prime example. Is it merely a boundary between two countries, the door to opportunity for many of our southern neighbors, the dividing line between us and them or the entry portal for criminals and hooligans? My rational self thinks the border is a mix of all of these. The political jousting tends to focus on the criminals and hooligans, of which there are certainly some. Nearly everyone agrees that keeping them out is a very good idea. We definitely do not want more criminals and hooligans to add to the home-grown variety we already have.

According to the Google guy, the US Mexico border is just short of two thousand miles. It’s about the same as the distance from Cleveland in Ohio to Las Vegas in Nevada; or about the same as from Chicago to Los Angeles. With that perspective, imagine building and maintaining a thirty-foot-high wall or a shorter fence for the full two thousand miles. Additionally, you need to make sure no one breaches the barrier.

President Trump and those on Team Trump tell us that the only way to keep the criminals and hooligans out is to build and maintain the two-thousand-mile wall. Our fear of the invading criminals and hooligans should be a sufficient motivation to build it now. The opposition team tells us that there are better and less expensive ways of keeping the criminals and hooligans out, although so far, I haven’t heard much about what those better and less expensive ways are. They seem to have something to do with electronics and drones.

My rational self tells me that either approach would probably work equally well. Either the old-style wall or the new-style technology would likely stop most but not all of the illegal border crossing. Either would be particularly effective at stopping children and families. The real issue is how well either would be at stopping criminals and hooligans. I suspect either approach would slow down the influx of criminals and hooligans but many if not most determined criminals and hooligans would be up to the challenge of either type of barrier. I doubt that either approach would actually reduce the number of criminals and hooligans all that much who get from there to here. Even so, either approach would likely reduce the number of good people looking for a better life who make the passage.

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I’ll Vote For That

There is a rather simple fact of life that is all too easy to overlook. Each of us – Yes, all of us – has needs, problems and vulnerabilities that exceed our individual capacity to cope. As smart as we are, as wise as we are, as capable as we are, going it alone just doesn’t cut it. We can’t survive by ourselves.

Friends and family are essential. Companions and community are essential. Resources and opportunities are essential. Yes, even bureaucrats, politicians and government are essential. It takes the whole package to make it work; and if any element is absent, our jeopardy increases.

We are entering the biannual moment when elections and politics take center stage in our collective consciousness. Whether or not we want to give them our attention, they will demand it, will force themselves on us. It will quickly be impossible to get through the day without being messaged, without being told that our vote counts and just who they think should get to count it. …

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Promises Made

Mr. President, there are a plethora of promises made. Let me remind you of a few. Listeners can then judge whether promises made have turned into promises kept.

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Prompts05: Everything I Know I Learned From

I’m glad you stopped by. If this is your first visit, I have some interesting mental gymnastics for you today. If you like that sort of thing, I think you will enjoy your visit.

If you are an Audio Tidbits Podcast regular, I am still pursuing interesting ways to respond to the prompts from the Prompts app on my iPhone. I think you will agree that today’s prompt is particularly puzzling. It’s another one of those notions that either has a dozen good responses or none. I’m having trouble deciding.

Try this. Everything I know, I learned from…. How will you finish the sentence? …

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Prompts04: I’m My Own

Here I am back with the latest prompt from the Prompts app on my iPhone. I’m getting a late start since the college football game had a lightening delay of over an hour. Since the Buckeyes won 77 to 31, who cares about a little delay? Not me.

Today’s prompt is, “I am my own….” That certainly opens us up to a world of possibilities.

There I go again, speaking for us instead of just speaking for me. As they say, “Old habits are hard to break.” Let me take another pass at that. That opens it up to a world of possibilities for me. How about for you?

Will you take a crack at today’s prompt? “I am my own….” How do you finish the sentence? …

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Prompts03: When I’m Alone I Feel

Thanks for joining me on this writing journey. The Prompts app for my iPhone has generated yet another engaging prompt. When I’m alone, I feel…. I hope you choose to play along. How will you finish the sentence?

My immediate response is, “When I’m alone, I feel peaceful. The movie in my mind finds me late at night when the phone doesn’t ring, when the house is quiet and there is time to read or perhaps time to write. There are no demands, no expectations. It is indeed a peaceful scene.

I then let the image expand and quickly understand that I am not actually alone. My wife had headed to bed earlier as is her habit and both dogs have called it a day. The collie has climbed up into the red chair and the lab is stretched out on the couch. Bird is still in her cage and seems to know that it is quiet time. Alone? No, I’m not actually alone. …

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Prompts02: I Spend A Lot Of Time Thinking About…

As is true for many if not most bloggers and podcasters, I give a lot of thought and energy to coming up with new and hopefully interesting content. I keep hearing that content is king, and perhaps it is. My problem is that I struggle with coming up with viable candidates to wear the crown.

I discovered today that my problem may be its own solution. Yesterday I told you about the Prompts app that I found for my iPhone. It provides a few words to start the writing juices flowing. The prompt is followed by an empty note, inviting me to extend the thought.

It seems to be saying, “Here’s a great candidate to assume the throne. You have been introduced to the next king so give him the attention such royalty deserves.” Setting the sexist aspect of this aside for now, let’s meet the king for today. …